gives gold-medal performance at graduation event
17 May 2002
By D. Lyn Hunter, Berkeleyan
some thought Olympic skier Jonny Moseley a less-than-weighty
choice for speaker at Berkeley's commencement convocation, graduates
and family members at the May 17 event were won over by his
address, sprinkled with humility, humor and sound advice for
The 26-year old Moseley - looking like a graduate himself in
black robe, wide grin and spiked hairdo - won laughs and enthusiastic
applause throughout his talk at the Greek Theatre.
I was first contacted about speaking here, I thought 'what's
going on? Is Maya Angelou speaking at the X-Games'," said
Moseley of Berkeley's invitation. "I remember the last
time Berkeley contacted me. It was a letter from the admissions
office that started: 'Dear Mr. Moseley, we regret to inform
Moseley went on to tell the graduates about his rise to fame
after the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where he won the gold
medal for moguls skiing. Moseley was on top of the world.
hit the talk shows, enjoyed parties, signed endorsements and
all the things that made me feel important and
successful," he recalled. " I was constantly happy,
because people were constantly reassuring me of my righteous
But the glamour started to fade, and so did Moseley's happiness.
His bid for the 2002 Olympics became less about the sport and
more about regaining the attention he so craved, he said.
He invented a new trick for the upcoming event, a 720-degree
turn called the "Dinner Roll" - which he demonstrated,
in slow motion, on the Greek Theatre stage. But just weeks before
the competition, he couldn't perform it consistently.
reconciled myself to the fact that I may walk out of Olympic
arena impressing no one but myself," said Moseley. "My
performance took on whole new feeling, I was no longer competing
for them. I worked on the Dinner Roll with myself in mind."
Despite nailing the jump during competition, Moseley finished
fourth - out of medal contention and the limelight - but said
it was the greatest day of his life.
not saying go for fourth place," Moseley cautioned the
graduates. "But be free in the way you measure your success.
Don't let it depend on awards, money and other validations.
You should own your own happiness."
Anthropology Professor Alan Dundes, who delivered the faculty
lecture at the convocation, had the audience in stitches after
a hilarious treatise on the ritual use of the number three in
divide everything into threes," said Dundes, who enumerated
a long string of familiar threesomes. "We have good, better
and best; solid, liquid and gas; not to mention lower class,
middle class and upper class."
Past, present and future is also popular, but Americans place
far too much importance on the latter portion of this triplet,
have a penchant for the future and tend to disregard the present
and the past," he said. "I would like to suggest that
you not overemphasize the concern with your future. Take time
to enjoy the present, savor the moment, take pleasure in now
and don't worry yourself to death about tomorrow."
Also addressing the crowd was Shayna Parekh - the top graduating
senior - and University of Maryland history professor Alison
Olson, who delivered remarks 50 years ago when she graduated
Chancellor Berdahl conferred several student awards during the
ceremony, including the University Medal to Parekh, the Priestley
Award to Tam Mai Ma for outstanding leadership and contributions
to student welfare; the Mather Award to Rowena Cardona Castillo
for outstanding civic commitment, scholarship and service to
the university; the Espenschade Prize to Sarah Wheatley, the
top female athlete; the Gimbel Prize to Chris Roner, the top
male athlete; and the Christie Award to Marcus Rosenthal for
innovation in problem solving.
Berkeley degrees are conferred at nearly 50 individual ceremonies
in schools, colleges and departments, but commencement convocation
brings together seniors from all disciplines for a campuswide