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Local News / Education

Sunday, 8 May, 2011 5:01 PM

Apple Inc. Co-founder Steve Wozniak speaks to MSU graduates at commencement

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Steve Wozniak delivers the commencement address at Michigan State University on May 6, 2011.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. in 1976. Wozniak received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California Berkeley. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology Award by the president nine years later. In 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame. The company, now known as Apple Inc., launched the iPad 2 in March.

"It's hard to keep up with all of the changes," the Apple Inc. co-founder said. "I've always favored young people. Technology will be able to solve all of our problems. I'm going to think on my own. I'm not going to follow everyone else. Try to be nice to people even if they're mean to you. If you're a jerk now, you're going to be a jerk forever. Happiness is three F's: food, fun and friends. Be a do-er in life, change things. Something is wrong and needs changing in our future. It's hard to predict the future. The part of brain power is now the internet."

Wozniak delivered the commencement address at Michigan State University last Friday. The university-wide convocation took place at 1 p.m. inside the Breslin Students Events Center. He also received an honorary degree from the college of engineering at the ceremony. It was free and open to the public. Tickets were not required to attend the convocation.

"Introduction to computers was a graduate course when I was a freshman," Wozniak added. "I was allowed to take it because I was in engineering. When I developed my first computer, well it was actually the second computer I built in my life, it became the Apple I, I gave it away for free. Computers are becoming more and more like a person. We've got our small little phones. We've created a new species. Don't waste your life. Make your life fun."

Other honorary degree recipients include Mike and Marian Ilitch and Baldemar Velasquez. The Ilitches received honorary degrees from the college of business for founding Little Caesars Pizza and owning the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers, among various other ventures. Velasquez, President of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), received an honorary degree of humanities for his efforts to improve the work conditions and lives of farm workers.

"Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller, who sharpened their skates as Spartans as turning out to be pretty darn good Red Wings players," Mike Ilitch said. "There will no longer be one-hour classes three times a week. Some of you will work 9-to-5 jobs five days a week. Some of you will be entrepreneurs, in which case you will work very long hours and everyday of the week. By having your own business, you can give jobs to other people, which might not otherwise happen. Whichever path you take, I wish you all the best. Go get 'em graduates!"

A total of 4,856 undergraduates degree candidates were honored at the university-wide convocation. The top two colleges were social science with 919 graduates and business with 751 graduates. An additional 1,768 students, who will graduate after the summer semester, were allowed to walk in the spring ceremony.

"It's a good feeling, it's a sad feeling too," said Aaron Miller, an MSU graduate of journalism and public relations from Livonia, Mich. "I've enjoyed my four years here. All of my friends and the education here. It's the next process in life going on. I loved everything about MSU. Steve Wozniak was amazing. He's a very intelligent guy, obviously. But he is also very down-to-earth. I just have an iPod Touch, I don't have a Mac. I plan on getting that soon maybe because of his speech here."

Wozniak and Velasquez both held free public discussions from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday after the convocation. The Apple Inc. co-founder's talk was held in room 1345 of the Engineering Building while the FLOC President's talk was held in room 133 of Holden Hall.

"I really enjoyed it, I know a lot of people didn't come but it was definitely worth it," said Christine Bingham, an MSU graduate of packaging and Spanish from Armada, Mich. "I do not have an iPhone, but I do have an iPod. Mine is generally a lot older than most people. It's really exciting and now that the job market is picking up. It's a lot better time for a lot of us. I'm ready to move onto the next phase. Go Green!"

It was MSU's second "green" commencement ceremony. Graduation caps and gowns were manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. Programs and diplomas were made from recycled paper. Diplomas were not handed out during the university-wide convocation. Instead, they were given to students at the graduation ceremony for each college/major.

"I'm overjoyed, I couldn't be any happier," said David Buetner, an MSU graduate of physiology from Midland, Mich. "I'm going onto Med School next year so it's done everything it needed to do for me and I knew I was going to be a Spartan. I thought he [Wozniak] was a great speaker. He was pretty uplifting, pretty inspiring. He was no Barack Obama or anything, but he was good. I'm glad they had him. I'm not really a big fan of Apple. He's a good guy, but I'm not going to go Apple just because of that."

TIAA-CREF President and CEO Roger Ferguson Jr. received an honorary degree of business during the 7 p.m. advanced-degree ceremony, also held at the Breslin Center last Friday. A total of 2,118 candidates received were honored at that ceremony. An additional 480 graduate students, who will be eligible for their degrees after the summer semester, were allowed to walk in the spring ceremony.

"It feels great, happy to have had the experience here," said Christopher Hicks, an MSU graduate of media arts and technology from Kalamazoo, Mich. "It was a good speech. He's a pretty funny guy, actually. I don't own anything Apple. I'll still probably stick with Microsoft. Go Green!"

The East Lansing, Mich. university has had a long history of hosting world-renowned speakers at its commencement ceremonies. Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. spoke at the fall commencement ceremony in 2010. Dan Rather spoke at the spring advanced-degree ceremony in 2009.

"We had taken the unusual step three years ago of planning that the structural deficit for the state would be about 13 percent," said MSU President Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon, about budget cuts from Gov. Snyder. "So we picked 13 percent as a planning number. We've made a number of changes from eliminating positions, dramatic changes in health care, all the basic aspects of the budget so that we can anticipate that number. We're well within the planning parameters. For the campus, the plans are in place and you won't see much different next year."

Related Story: Magic Johnson speaks at Michigan State University fall commencement ceremony

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Farm Labor Organizing Committee President Baldemar Velasquez received an honorary degree of Humanities.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Marian and Michael Ilitch received an honorary degree of Business.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Derrick Fox, a doctoral student of Music, performed the Star Spangled Banner.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

MSU President Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon welcomes everyone to the ceremony.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Apple Inc. Co-founder Steve Wozniak arrives at the ceremony.

 

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