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Major Roy James Blakeley (December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)

When I was young my dad would say
Come on son let's go out and play

No matter how hard I try
No matter how many tears I cry
No matter how many years go by
I still can't say goodbye

- "I Still Can't Say Goodbye," Performer: Chet Atkins

MP3 audio file/lyrics http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/still_cant_say_goodbye.htm

For a larger image click on the photograph.

Rhodes Scholar. Phi Beta Kappa. UC Berkeley’s top medal. Ankur Luthra, who has won them all, was honored speaker at the commencement ceremonies. Here’s what he told the new graduates.

I begin with a thank you to the paragon of selflessness: my parents and grandparents. To be concise, you are the reason for all my success and I love you more than anything. I stay true to the quote I told a close friend as a high school freshman: if, in my old age, I can say with confidence that I am half the person my parents and grandparents are, I will know my life has been a success.

Second, because we live in a time of troubling international situations, I would like to make a short comment. I am neither a foreign policy expert nor historian qualified to give a detailed vision on the future state of international relations. All I know is that all people all over the world are members of a bigger classification: humanity. And whether it be our troops and government who fight to defend our nation and rights every day, many thanks and may God bless them, or whether it be the Palestinian children who are often caught in the crossfire and lose their innocence before they can even explore it, I hope for the safety of the innocent all over the world and their Godspeed return to the love of their families and a future of freedom and peace.

And now I turn my attention to my fellow members of the Class of 2003 as well as present Cal Alumni.

You, fellow Cal friends, are blessed with the distinction of graduating from one of the world’s finest institutions. Congratulations, and professors who made this possible, thank you. You have been able to bask in the aura of both academic radiance that is created by the amazing diverse students and brilliant professors here and the social radiance of Greek Life, Telegraph, and a BART ride to San Fran. And God Bless the football team, we Class of 2003 seniors are graduating with a long-awaited 30-7 Big Game thrashing. Go Bears! But more than anything else, you have graduated from a University, that aside from being an unparalleled undergraduate experience, is a symbol of standing up for positive change, often against popular opinion.

The University shares that symbolism with one of my inspirations: Mahatma Gandhi. One of his sayings is what I live by: be the change that you want to see in the world.

I ask you: what change do you want to see? To figure that out, I ask: what bothers you? Like me, the digital divide and general disparity in educational opportunity? Maybe the room for improving the support structure for battered women as with a fellow finalist? How about homelessness or the spread of AIDS in many undereducated Third World countries? If nothing bothers you, I am deeply saddened. Complacency and selfishness are the core ingredients to a fading soul. If something, anything, bothers you, I challenge you to do something about it. You ask “Can I make a difference?” With confidence, I say absolutely. You ask, “But how vast could that difference possibly be?” Good question; it reminds me of a surgeon in India I read about who works for free. After a morning bombing, he saw an afternoon waiting room of hundreds of dying men unable to afford care who turned to him to save their lives. When the doctor was told by an onlooker he cannot possibly make a significant difference considering he could only save a few of the hundred, the doctor replies, “Ask the last man I saved how significant my difference was.” That’s the beauty of making a difference, my friends. It is not judged on extensiveness; it is judged on heart, dedication, and patience. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Along the way, you may be called idealistic, even stupid. I have been given this classification at times as well when expressing my bold vision and acting on it. I smile, genuinely. Remember, those who have accomplished the most amazing feats were the ones not smart enough to know those very feats were impossible.

I can almost guarantee people will call you crazy. The self-satisfied tend to think impact-makers are crazy. I would take it as a compliment, actually. After all, those who were crazy enough to think they could change the world were the ones who did. And I’m next. And you’re next. We, the Cal Class of 2003, are next.

And through it all, through life’s rollercoasters that are sure to follow, remember to look back at that Cal degree hanging on the wall and smile. It certifies your dedication, your accomplishment, your intelligence. But don’t just look at the degree; hear what it has to say. It’s screaming at you, it’s telling you, like Gandhi and like myself, to be the change you want to see in the world since you as a Berkeley grad are capable of such greatness. I hope you listen. I know you’ll listen.

Ankur Luthra: Stellar Student Record

Last December, Ankur Luthra was awarded a coveted Rhodes Scholarship and then graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with two bachelor’s degrees. He ended his tenure at UC Berkeley as University Medalist, receiving the honor May 15 at the campus’s Commencement Convocation.

The University Medal is awarded each year to an exemplary graduating senior with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.96. It has been considered the top honor for a graduating senior since it was established in 1871.

Combining his interests in computer science and business, Luthra founded Computer Literacy 4 Kids (CL4K), a Berkeley-based non-profit, after noticing a troubling digital divide among low-income students.

“Because of CL4K, villages in Rajasthan, India, now have access to the latest computer technology,” said Ravi Bhandari, a visiting assistant professor of economics who has known Luthra for years. “It is refreshing to see a business student be able to think critically and carefully about difficult world issues such as global poverty and economic development.”

Luthra, who remains president of the 17-member non-profit organization, said he is battling an ongoing disparity in education resources. “I see people who are perfectly motivated, who are incredibly sharp, but who don’t have adequate resources,” he said. “I think education is the safest and surest route out of poverty. To me, it’s depressing to find people who have the drive, diligence and intelligence to take that route, but who don’t have the books and equipment. It’s wasted potential, and that is a big deal.”

Luthra said his core values were instilled in him through his parents, Ravi and Tripta Luthra, who immigrated to the United States from Punjab, India. “They would regularly do volunteer and charity work, like cook food for seniors and the homeless as part of going to temple,” he said. “Their selflessness has been a big inspiration for me.”

Among the numerous scholarships and awards Luthra has garnered over the past few years are the Regents, Barry M. Goldwater and Bechtel scholarships. He is also a member of several honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa and Mensa.

He plans to pursue a master’s degree in computer science when he attends Oxford University this fall as a Rhodes Scholar. After Oxford, he will study for his JD and MBA in a four-year joint program at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, where he has already been accepted.

In the future, Luthra plans to pursue projects in assistive robotics, such as improving prosthetics for the disabled. “I have much to be thankful for in my life,” he said, “so it’s important for me to give back to society.”

(Excerpted from a U.C. Berkeley press release)

Rhodes Scholar Ankur Luthra, who graduated with double major in computer science and business, will get his MBA and law degree from Harvard after a stint at Oxford.