The keynote speaker was Jody Lewen, founder of the Prison University Project, which provides higher education programs for prisoners at San Quentin. She spoke passionately about the power each one of us has to have profound positive effects by inspiring others, the degree to which our freedom is limited simply by the lack of awareness of the choices we have, and the fear of failure or ineffectiveness that makes us avoid tackling big and important problems — problems that could be solved if we chose to try. Despite the seriousness of her message, a sense of joy and charm and irrepressible energy pervaded her talk. The topic resonated with me and all of my thinking this past year about how to do something truly effective with my life now that i have arrived at one of those moments where i have the total freedom to choose what to do next.
Jody Lewen is a remarkable person. There is another talk by her available online if you're interested.
P.S.: Thank you for all the kind words! I'm not officially done yet, as there's still the matter of getting the dissertation signed, but the ceremony was nice. :)