Ben Stein's Diary

Jobs for Graduates

That's what San Diego's National University is providing.

By 5.16.12

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Sunday–Mother's Day
Alex and I are at our house in Rancho Mirage. The temperature as we left for the Mother's Day Brunch at Morningside Club was 112. That's hot.

The brunch was delicious but there were not many people there. Lots of men and women have gone home because The Season for parties and socials has ended. Plus, it's hot as blazes.

Still, Alex and I had a fine meal mostly of chicken, then came home, packed up, and got on the Freeway.

It was fantastically hot. Just sheets of wavy heat coming off the asphalt. It was terrifying to think what would happen if the a/c broke.

Luckily, it didn't, and soon we were in Calimesa, where the temperature was a mild 85 with a lovely breeze. I had a snack at the Burger King. I met a lovely couple from Phoenix who had been visiting in Marina del Rey. The girlfriend is a medical biller for a huge chain of hospitals. She argues with insurers to get the hospitals paid. She said she was hiring like mad and still could not keep up. The demand for capable men and women in this field is bottomless and growing.

She had learned about it, if I recall correctly, at a nonprofit partly on-line, partly campus-based school called National University in San Diego.

This is some amazing coincidence, because I am addressing their commencement tomorrow in San Diego.

We ran into maddening traffic in Rosemead, then got to near home. We pulled into a Taco Bell to get a Diet Coke. Two LAPD officers were questioning two young men. No one was in cuffs. When the young men saw me, they asked me to sign some bottle of Clear Eyes, then the police wanted autographs, too, and soon everyone was laughing and the cops let the young men go.

We got home, and I washed up, and then jumped into a Town Car to be driven down to San Diego. I slept the whole way except for a stop at a Sonic where the waiters were all on roller skates. The owner of the franchise came screaming up to the store in his truck to tell me how much he loves The American Spectator, so that was nice.

I slept the whole rest of the way, checked into my room with its life-or-death tea maker, then went to sleep next to a window overlooking the San Diego Marina. I had a long dream about my pal Wendy yelling at me because I eat too much fast food.

Then, more sleep, then dressed and out to the commencement preliminaries. The main one was visiting with Patricia Potter, a brilliant, lovely, friendly woman. Like my mother, she had spent some time at Goucher College in Maryland. My mother had transferred to Barnard but always had a fond spot for Goucher and for Maryland, where my sister and I "grew up." (I still know every word of "Maryland, My Maryland.")

Ms. Potter and I had a great talk, then off to get robed, meet super friendly officers, trustees, and faculty. I also met the long-time soul of the school, Dr. Jerry C. Lee. He's retiring after a spectacular career at National and elsewhere.

We went into an immense room at the San Diego Convention Center. I was told there were 7,800 people there -- students and families, primarily. The room was kept at a perfect temperature.

I spoke mostly about National. It is a great place in that it educates people for the world as it is. The students are taught engineering, nursing, teaching, medical billing, many other subjects that will get the grads jobs when they get out. They will get jobs and they will make a living and they will have the self-esteem that only making a living and being self-supporting through their own contributions can confer.

Yes, it's true that many schools teach discontent, whining, moaning, bitching, navel gazing, and disloyalty. Yes, it's true that some of them are famous schools.

But at National University, they teach what America needs its students to know: the skills we need to keep America running.

Again, these are not whiners and moaners at National University. These are the people who will keep us competitive and will keep themselves alive without a handout. Many of these students were single parents and worked at a job (maybe two jobs) while they studied. This is motivation indeed and motivation is everything.

I looked out at the men and women in the room -- white, black, Asian, Hispanic, men, women, old and young, all learning how to keep the engine of America and the engine of their personalities running. I kept thinking, "I have seen the future of education and it works."

Governor Brown should put the trustees of National University in charge of the University of California. Fewer courses in subversion. More classes in subjects that really matter and get graduates jobs.

Many of the people in room had a military background and cheered as I lauded our military. I just loved these people.

Then the speech was over and we pooh-bahs went back to the robing room. I was sad to say good-bye to President Potter and Chancellor-Emeritus Lee. I was sad to say good-bye to all of them. The salt of the earth.

This has been an encouraging day and I don't have a lot of them.

On the way home, I met my pal Joe for dinner in Del Mar. He is as hard-working a man as I know of. And he has the success to prove it. The absolutely best anti-poverty program there is: work. They know it at National University. If we are smart about it, the future will be what schools like National make it.


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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.