In Last Lecture, psychology prof encourages class of 2013 to embrace ‘age of the nerd,’ one another

Psychology Prof. Renee Engeln was selected by the class of 2013 to give the annual Last Lecture. In her talk, Engeln complimented the graduating seniors' generation for spawning the

Source: Department of Psychology

Psychology Prof. Renee Engeln was selected by the class of 2013 to give the annual Last Lecture. In her talk, Engeln complimented the graduating seniors' generation for spawning the "age of the nerd."

Sophia Bollag, Summer Reporter

Psychology Prof. Renee Engeln began her Last Lecture to the class of 2013 on Monday night by reading excerpts from her colleagues and other professionals in her field criticizing the graduating seniors’ generation.

She paraphrased the book “Generation Me” by psychologist Jean M. Twenge.

“She says what happened is that you turned into the most self-centered, entitled, narcissistic generation we’ve ever seen,” Engeln said, causing the mostly student crowd at the Chicago sports bar Cubby Bear to cheer wildly.

Engeln, a popular senior lecturer and director of the Body and Media Lab, was chosen by the class of 2013 in May to deliver the Last Lecture, a Senior Week tradition, but said she only began writing her speech Saturday.

Despite taking only two days to prepare, Engeln earned loud applause, cheers and laughter throughout her remarks, which focused on giving the graduating seniors advice for life after Northwestern.

“Things are not going to work out the way you planned, but they are going to work out,” she said.

Engeln told the seniors that close relationships will lead to happiness, asking them to hug whoever was next to them if they did not have someone who loved them dearly, something many in the crowd did enthusiastically. Among her other life lessons were, “Always be on the lookout for free cookies,” and, “Don’t be a douche bag.”

Engeln ended the speech on a positive note, complimenting the seniors’ generation for starting the “age of the nerd.”

“Now nerds are cool and that’s great because what is a nerd, but someone who has a passion for something and does whatever it takes to get good at it,” she said. “The people who call your generation ‘Generation Me,’ either they don’t know you very well, or they’re a bunch of douche bags themselves.”

— Sophia Bollag

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