Graduation letters: Jared Rappaport


Illustration by Brandon Sarmiento

Jared Rappaport

Professor Jared Rappaport is the chair of the department of cinema and television arts at the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication. You can learn more about him here.

I recall very well preparing myself emotionally for graduation, lo these many years ago. I was filled with an enormous sense of accomplishment and relief, but perhaps even more so, a creeping sense of terror and uncertainty at what I would be facing. After all, I had always been in the womb of structured education, from grammar school through higher education, and only now was I being thrust out into the world; having to take responsibility for my own life.

I was dating someone who was much more worldly than me, and she told me, “Jerry, you have to broaden your horizons. Go out and see what the world is like.” That made some sense to me, and I decided to save up some money and travel. I ended up going through Mexico and Central America, into South America, for almost a year. I started out with a tennis buddy of mine, then completed the trip on my own.

I don’t really know what compelled me to make that trek, but it proved to be the trip of a lifetime, with many hair-raising adventures and stories I still recount.

I guess if I were to give advice to young people about to graduate, I would tell them to broaden their horizons and be adventurous. You’re still looking for yourselves. You’re still being formed. I never thought of myself as particularly brave, but it seemed like something that I would always look back on and be glad I did it. And sure enough, it was.

Embrace the unknown. You’re leaving the womb of education, but your remarkable journey is just starting. There is no roadmap. Expect a lot of bumps. Make some great memories that will sustain you. Take chances and have some wild adventures. You’re only young once!