Commencement speaker Jim Carrey
MUM President Dr. Bevan Morris
Donna Jones, who received a BS in mathematics, giving the Valedictorian address
This year’s Salutatorian Rheanne Schlee, BA in literature
Jim Carrey, Dr. Jeffrey Abramson, Chair of Board of Trustees,
and Dr. Bevan Morris
Jim Carrey addressing the graduates, faculty, administrators, family, and friends
Photos by Ken West
Jim Carrey Gives Commencement Address
The Golden Dome brimmed with euphoria and laughter on Saturday afternoon, May 24, as 285 students graduated from the University — with an extraordinary commencement address by Jim Carrey.
The following day, the Cedar Rapids Gazette called it “the best commencement address ever.” Media all over the world have been covering the event, including CNN, The Washington Post, US Magazine, and NY Daily News.
His address blended uproarious one-liners with wisdom and practical advice, while offering an enlightened perspective on living life. “You are the vanguard of knowledge and consciousness, a new wave in a vast ocean of possibilities,” he told the students. “On the other side of that door there is a world starving for new ideas, new leadership.”
“I learned many great lessons from my father,” he said, “not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
MUM President Bevan Morris praised Mr. Carrey — award winning actor, comedian, author, and philanthropist — as “one of the most creative and celebrated artists of our time” and called him “the funniest man on earth.”
In recognition of his significant lifetime achievement and the joyful gifts he has given to the world, the University Board of Trustees presented Mr. Carrey with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
“I want to thank the trustees, the administrators, and the faculty of MUM for creating an institution worthy of Maharishi’s ideals of education — a place that teaches knowledge and experience necessary to be productive in life,” Mr. Carrey said.
In this graduation ceremony, the University’s 39th, 62 students graduated with bachelor’s degrees, 219 with master’s degrees, and four with doctoral degrees. More than half of the graduate students received master’s degrees in computer science. The event included the first students to graduate from the David Lynch Master’s in Film program, which started last August.
Graduating students represented 54 countries — 99 from the US, 61 from Ethiopia, 45 from the People’s Republic of China, 27 from Nepal, and the others from countries all over the world.
“We’re the light that shines through”
In his address, Mr. Carrey encouraged students to hold on to their dreams and be of service to others. He asked: “How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”
“Ultimately we’re not the avatars we create,” he said. ”We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We’re the light that shines through.” He added: “Like many of you I was concerned about going into the world and doing something bigger than myself — until someone smarter than myself made me realize that there is nothing bigger than my Self.”
“Now fear is going to be a player in life,” he said, “but you get to decide how much. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it.”
During his more than 30-year career as a comedian, Mr. Carrey was nominated for six Golden Globe Awards for best actor, winning the award two years in a row. He has also won numerous MTV Movie Awards, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, and People’s Choice Awards, among others.
In 2013, Mr. Carrey released a children’s book, How Roland Rolls, which received the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award for contributions to children’s literature. He is also a celebrated painter and sculptor.
In 2005, Mr. Carrey founded The Better U Foundation which addresses global food security and helps rice farmers earn a better living for their families by supporting the System of Rice Intensification. He also supports the David Lynch Foundation’s efforts to bring the Transcendental Meditation® technique to at-risk young people and veterans with PTSD.
The day before graduation, Mr. Carrey met privately with the students in the David Lynch MA in Film program.
Watch Valedictorian and Salutatorian addresses