Inspiring Berkeley alums remind us that graduating doesn’t suck

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U.S. Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia/Courtesy/Flickr

It’s that time of the semester once again. Preparation for our last midterms and finals hasn’t necessarily started, but many of us know that it should have. While readings pile up and papers loom in the not so far off distance, we watch that last season of Mad Men that’s finally up on Netflix. We stay up until 3 a.m. with friends analyzing the latest episode of Game of Thrones rather than the research for our 10-page paper due in 2 weeks.

We know that all the seniors and graduate students out there — and maybe some idealistic sophomores and juniors — have been thinking about the future in the midst of all this movie-going and sleeping in. If you’re in that boat, maybe you’ve applied for a couple of jobs, only to receive the automated rejection letters that remind you of college apps four years ago. This is starting to sound pretty grim, we know, but this is the reality of our imminent last weeks as Berkeley students. Sometimes — most of the time — the real world seems scary. As we stare ahead into the faces of our futures, suddenly our excitement about our Cal degrees seems less and less valid.

We’re here to reassure you. Although the economy isn’t its best and we couldn’t all be MCB majors, Berkeley alums from across the board are notorious for doing amazing things with their degrees. In fact, many of the pastimes we often take for granted while not doing our homework would not exist without Berkeley brilliance. We’re going to list a few that we hope you’ll find reassuring.

Douglas C. Engelbart. Ever use a computer mouse? We know you do if your preferred procrastination has anything to do with “Call of Duty” or “StarCraft.” Well, the guy who invented the handy tool graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1948, and a master’s degree from Berkeley in 1953. He also invented some other stuff, like inhypertext,which is pretty awesome (Hint: We used hypertext to link you to the meaning of hypertext.)

Paul E. Debevec. Gaming not your thing? More into awe-inspiring blockbuster rewatching? Debevec earned his doctorate in computer sciences from Berkeley in 1996 and went on to develop technology without which “Avatar” and “The Matrix” would not have been the same. In 2002, he was named by the MIT Technology Review as one of the top 100 young innovators in the world under the age of 35. Promising, yes?

Marguerite Higgins Hall. You’re reading our newspaper’s blog right now, and coincidentally she worked for The Daily Californian in the late 1930s. Higgins Hall graduated with a bachelor’s degree in French in 1941 and went on to become a celebrated war correspondent during WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. By celebrated, we mean Pulitzer Prize-winning, of course. And guess what? She’s on a commemorative postage stamp! We think that’s pretty cool and probably due to her prolific career at the Daily Cal.

Robert Gaskins If you really don’t have time to watch movies, read tons of our posts or click away at incising hyperlinks due to project deadlines, chances are you’re relying on lecture notes on bSpace to cram. Or you’re stuck creating PowerPoints yourself, preparing to present some research to a class of hundreds. For that, you have Mr. Gaskins, the inventor of PowerPoint, to thank. He graduated in 1978 with a master’s degree from Cal.

Madelyn Dunham Hey, even if you don’t graduate you might end up aiding the procreation of some pretty cool people, like, we don’t know, the leader of the free world? No! Madelyn Dunham is not Lena Dunham’s grandma. She’s President Obama’s!

We’re kidding. You should definitely graduate. And when you do, you’ll most likely follow in some of these astonishing footsteps, so don’t worry about the senior slump! We’re sure Julia Morgan procrastinated by sketching the halls of Hearst Castle instead of finishing math homework. The point is, you may not end up doing what you thought you’d do in the future, but whatever it is that your postgrad years truly hold, we know it’s going to be forever appreciated by generations of future procrastinators around the world.

Contact Jordan Henigman at [email protected]

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