Graduation from college is a huge achievement. The ceremony itself is a momentous occasion witnessed by family, friends, academic peers and even university professors who are there to mark the passage from student to graduate. On the other hand, such a solemn moment is often, like catnip to a cat, seen as a moment to try a stupid human trick. In Michigan, one graduate from Davenport University decided he was limber enough in his formal, bright red gown and tasseled cap to do an enthusiastic back-flip after receiving his graduation diploma. That celebratory back-flip went terribly wrong causing the crowd to “ooh” more than “ahh.”
Robert Jeffrey Blank no doubt spent an enormous amount of time, energy, money and commitment on his road to academic success that ultimately culminated in his graduation ceremony. It is likely he spent hours at the private, non-profit university in Michigan hitting the books and imagining the day he would finally walk across the graduation stage in front of family and peers who would be there to celebrate his success. Now, thanks to a video of his spectacularly not spectacular back-flip that ended with an embarrassingly massive thud rather than a bow, Blank is being celebrated more for his ability to entertain the masses than for his academic prowess.
Some have commented that given the current dismal United States economy and depressing unemployment statistics that Blank’s epic fail of a back-flip may be more of an appropriate symbol of his immediate future than the promise of his diploma. Currently that once much sought after piece of paper means significantly less in terms of the ability for graduates to get a decent job than it ever did in the past.
Most college graduates will find themselves deep in financial loan debt for many years to come and that debt will be difficult to pay down unless they are lucky enough to land a plumb job in their field. If they happen to get a government job then, thanks to President Obama’s loan forgiveness program, their student loan debt could be forgiven in as few as 10 years although they will be required to make payments on the loan balance in the interim. Some who have watched the video of Blank’s back-flip gone wrong have joked that it was in fact his student loan debt that weighed him down and prevented the full execution of the flip.
While some have been scathing in response to Blank’s stupid human trick there are others who sympathize with his public humiliation. Many recognize that he was just trying to express his enthusiasm for the moment of his long-awaited academic recognition. They can relate to a spontaneous moment gone wrong. Others have been less than charitable, grimly commenting that perhaps the flop of a flip is the start of Blank’s “adult life” with “poor-decision making, worse execution and public humiliation.”
Graduation from college is a big accomplishment and perhaps Blank’s stupid human trick will benefit him in an unexpected way. His fall may result in a financial windfall as people continue to find his video entertaining, or just painful but still worth sharing. If the video goes viral, and it is close to a quarter of a million views now, it could result in media interviews and perhaps a modest income.
Even if Blank does benefit financially in some way from his errant back-flip gone wrong, it is doubtful the sum will make even a dent on the cost of his education. Not only is he likely facing a large debt, he now faces a moment of national embarrassment. Luckily for this graduate, he is not the first, nor will he be the last person to take a big risk in a public forum. Blank’s video is just another painfully entertaining moment in a rich history of stupid human tricks.
Opinion By Alana Marie Burke
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