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Success, Failure Coincide at Commencement

Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Graduates often linger after the speeches are done and the degrees passed out to pose for photos and say their farewells. Not David Luna," wrote Jim Miller in an article in the Finger Lakes Times about the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Commencement.

Luna '14 has been awarded a prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship and was expecting to leave for the airport immediately following graduation to begin an orientation program as part of the fellowship.

"I'm someone, I guess, who enjoys - how would I say it -not excitement, but just a fast pace, constant change and moving," Luna said. "So I guess this is sort of a good pace for what's to come."

While the fellowship has helped Luna clearly map his career path, Emmy-award winning writer, producer and director Brad Falchuk '93, L.H.D '14, shared how his was born more of failures along the way than successes.

Citing that he was not accepted into a fraternity he pledged while a Hobart student, the article says Falchuk "said his career - and his successes- arose from that failure. Because he felt like he had already hit rock bottom as far as social acceptance went, he decided he might as well follow a dream and take an acting class. That led to another acting class, which led to him writing a play, which led to him writing a movie, which got him into film school and started his career as a writer and producer in Los Angeles."

For that reason, he told graduates " ... If I have one wish for you, it's that you fail miserably."

The photo above features David Luna '14.

The full article follows.

Finger Lakes Times
‘Go Forth and Fail'
‘Glee' creator urges HWS grads to build off their mistakes

Jim Miller • May 19, 2014

GENEVA - Graduates often linger after the speeches are done and the degrees passed out to pose for photos and say their farewells. Not David Luna.

If all went according to plan, Luna went straight from Sunday's commencement ceremony at Hobart and William Smith Colleges to the airport.

He had a plane to catch and a Washington, D.C., internship to start.

"I'm someone, I guess, who enjoys - how would I say it -not excitement, but just a fast pace, constant change and moving," Luna said. "So I guess this is sort of a good pace for what's to come."

Luna received a Rangel Fellowship, which puts him on track for a career in the U.S. State Department. Two other graduates received Fulbright Scholarships, and many wore honor cords or medals signifying academic achievement.

Despite those notes of success, commencement speaker Brad Falchuk offered a different message - one he chose after reflecting on what he would have wanted his college-age self to know.

"The answer I arrived at was failure," said Falchuk, a 1993 Hobart graduate and co-creator of the popular television series "Glee" and "American Horror Story. "

... If I have one wish for you, it's that you fail miserably."

The crowd laughed, but Falchuk said he meant it.

"I hope you crash and burn," he said to more laughter. "I hope you get fired. I hope someone breaks your heart in the most horrendous of ways."

The reason? Heroes are born of failure, Falchuk said.

As a student, Falchuk said, he desperately wanted to join a fraternity whose members lived in a Victorian house on South Main Street. He failed to get in.

"If I had the emotional maturity at the time, I would have cried," he said. "... This was proof that rejection was my future. It was my destiny."

But Falchuk said his career - and his successes- arose from that failure. Because he felt like he had already hit rock bottom as far as social acceptance went, he decided he might as well follow a dream and take an acting class. That led to another acting class, which led to him writing a play, which led to him writing a movie, which got him into film school and started his career as a writer and producer in Los Angeles.

It also led to Friday, he said, when he was welcomed back to campus as an honored guest and found himself housed for the night in the very Victorian once occupied by the fraternity that had rejected him.

"I hope you buy a haunted house, or at least one with a bad mole problem," Falchuk told the graduates. "... Go forth and fail!"

The commencement ceremony, held on Hobart's main quadrangle, began at 10 a.m. with a procession of students and faculty.

The Rev. Lesley Adams offered the opening prayer, giving thanks to the love and support shown to Hobart and William Smith students.

"May this spirit of joy and gratitude permeate these commencement exercises ...even as we wipe away the occasional tear in anticipation of farewells," she said.

Colleges President Mark Gearan urged the graduates to lead lives of consequence. He said they leave the Colleges with the admiration and support of the faculty and staff, and he praised their compassion and academic achievement.

Luna, a political science major, returned the compliment. In an interview last week, he called Gearan and his wife, Mary, an inspiration.

"Their doors are always open," he said, calling Gearan an invaluable source of guidance because of his work in the Clinton administration. "Every time I go into his office and see all the pictures on the wall, I always get a sense of hope."

Luna also thanked his adviser, Professor DeWayne Lucas, for helping him apply for the Rangel Fellowship. Named for Rep. Charles Rangel, the fellowship will give Luna about $50,000 to pursue his master's degree in international security over the next two years. It also guarantees him an 11-week congressional internship this summer and a 10-week posting at an international embassy next year.

After earning his master's, Luna will join the U.S. Department of State as a foreign service officer.

Luna, who grew up in the New York City area, is the Colleges' first Rangel fellow. He arrived at HWS through the HEOP program and has made the Dean's List every semester.

"Coming into college I was someone who, I guess, I can probably be too comfortable at times," Luna said. "All the opportunities that HWS [offers] have allowed me ... to take on new ideas and awakened my passions. ... The whole college process has taught me to be much more flexible and open to change."

 

 

 


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