Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Quality Insider Features
Jake Mazulewicz
Three tips from high-reliability organizations
Aaron Heinrich
An optimal process requires an innovative control algorithm
Dave Gilson
Getting out of the boardroom for a stroll changes how women navigate
Bob Ferrone
Saving the planet and bolstering the bottom line
Jeanne Quimby
Kids can be the source of new ideas

More Features

Quality Insider News
Reliable, remote visual inspections and diagnostics in hard-to-reach areas
Ideal for dusty manufacturing environments, explosive atmospheres
Optimized for cured tire runout and bulge measurement
With coupling capacitor approach that eliminates the need for an external sensor
High-performance standard and custom silicon and InGaAs photodetectors
Verifying performance of products on tubular disc and cable conveyors
Introducing solutions to improve production performance
How to drive productivity with a universal and powerful 3D inspection software

More News

Bill Kalmar

Quality Insider

Oh No! You’re Not Graduating!

Top 10 signs you won’t be getting that diploma

Published: Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 12:02

This is the time of year when students and parents eagerly await the final day of school and the impending graduation ceremony. It is a time of joy and apprehension as students celebrate their accomplishment and ponder their next societal or educational steps.

For high-school students, will it be college, the military, or a specialized field, such as becoming a physical therapist. For college grads will it be the pursuit of an advanced degree or perhaps a career in the corporate world. Whatever the choice, it can be a time of stress.

During this time, students will gather for a graduation ceremony that is often augmented with a commencement speaker. At times the speaker is a luminary from government, a renowned author, a comedian, or the CEO of a major corporation. Among this year’s orators are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Ferrell, Joe Biden, Oprah, Hillary Clinton, the 14th Dalai Lama, President Trump, and Theo Epstein. The speeches can be inspiring, dull, humorous, or forgettable. Of these speakers, I would like to hear Theo Epstein, director of operations for the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. Everyone is a Cubbies fan, especially after a 108-year drought. Now there’s an accomplishment!

Several years ago I had the honor and privilege of providing the commencement address at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. At the time, I was the director of the Michigan Quality Council during the Gov. John Engler administration. I’m sure most of the graduates were expecting a luminary, and then I show up. Ugh!

My theme was twofold: I used the poignant, inspiring words from the theme song to Alfie to illustrate that we need to think less of ourselves and more about our neighbors. Here are some of those words:

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?

And I concluded with a top 10 list: Signs You Won’t Be Graduating Tonight

10. Instead of a diploma, the school president hands you a McDonald’s hairnet.

9. Your grandma starts to affectionately call you “Lil’ Flunky.”

8. Your diploma is signed by Sally Struthers.

7. Cafeteria workers ask: “Anything in particular you’d like to see on the menu next semester?”

6. When you raise your hand to speak in class, the teacher says, “Save it for next year.”

5. While I’m reading this list, you’ve already nodded your head at least three times in agreement.

4. Your name is Becky Filberton, you’re sitting in our audience, and you failed the final in your class.

3. You’ve been at the school since 2001, and your biggest accomplishment is scoring 150,000 points on the video game “Blitz ‘99” in the student center.

2. Your name is Melinda. This year’s graduation theme: “Sorry, you won’t be graduating, Melinda.”

1. You have accumulated a record-high 74 parking tickets in the teacher’s-only parking lot, and as I speak your car is being towed.

There you have it. Not words from a luminary but perhaps thoughts that will bring a smile. So if you are a proud graduate this year, hope you are enjoying this major accomplishment, relishing that I was not the commencement speaker. Enjoy that moment, but heed the words of the Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.



Joining Delta Tau Chi fraternity probably did not help either ... (for those who do not remember - Animal House)

toga! toga! toga!

toga! toga! toga!


I would respond but I am on double secret probation!


ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!