Kal Penn Speaks about Millenials Ability to Change the Future

Last Friday, The University of Texas at Arlington hosted the 2013 Graduation Celebration at College Park Center. Speakers included Education graduate, Rene Grimes and actor/political activist, Kal Penn.

Like most graduation speeches, Grimes and Penn spoke about never giving up on your dreams. Grimes, a non-traditional student with grown children, stated, “ I've lead a wonderful life, but quitting my degree always haunted me.” Grimes defeated those demons and completed her master’s degree this past weekend.

Penn spoke about his struggle through college and how it took him ‘not four years’ to graduate. He joked about his college-friendly Ramen diet and his questionable, rundown apartment – sacrifices many college students can relate to.

Grimes referenced her time spent delivering babies with HIV in Africa and her work with Autistic children. Although she is from an older generation, her dedication to service is in line with the shift Penn said he has recently seen in Washington D.C. Penn stated young Evangelicals are now working together with young progressives to improve our environment. He emphasized their ability to put their differences aside in order to focus on a common goal. An important lesson most Americans think Congress should learn. In addition to social responsibility, Penn spoke about this generation's technology skills.

“This is the most tech-savvy and creative generation,” said Penn.

Some say Millenial’s access to and involvement in technology has caused them to be lazy and impatient, but Penn spoke to a different side of this trend. He mentioned a group of college students, known as 'The Lonely Island' and how they used YouTube to launch their careers. Their passion for music and humor quickly turned into a career when Saturday Night Live noticed their talent via YouTube and showcased some of their videos, known as “Digital Shorts.”

Click here to see one of the infamous Digital Shorts from The Lonely Island.

“I have never had a friend that wasn't called crazy and who didn't do something awesome", said Penn.

Millenials have been known to break the rules and rewrite traditional models. Good luck graduating class of 2013. May you use your quirks and differences make this world a better place. 

Photograph of Kal Penn from Richard Hoang via The Shorthorn