My name is Daniel Kevin Luke. I am a graduate student and assistant enrolled in the school of education at this University. I was asked to speak about my experience here. The piece I have written for this occasion is entitled 100%.
I was born rich. I was born into the top 10% of this country. I was born smart. If you were to ask me how smart I would have to explain that I took a fancy IQ test when I was in the second grade and scored in the 90th percentile. The point is, in terms of my intelligence, I was also born into the top 10% of this country.
Being part of the 10% meant that I had the money to go to a great school. It was there that I was able to build a specific type of intellect that academia found valuable. I could attend any college I wanted. I was smart enough for most and rich enough for the rest.
My advantage as a child was purely a financial one. I had the best teachers. I had the best curriculum in the nation. I was not smarter than anybody else. There are smarter people than me; trust me, in standard ways, unconventional ways, or both.
Intelligence, as we know, is subjective, and made up of a wide variety of concepts. Yes, I can pass a standardized test, but I cannot write a symphony. I can get A’s on a report card but I am weak in reading and expressing my emotions to the point that I seem robotic. I can write a three paragraph essay but if you left me in the wilderness, I would get eaten by a grizzly bear in minutes. Those are not abstract notions. Those are very real forms of intellect. We all share them in various personal capacities. They are our strengths and weaknesses. None of us are people of very superior anything. We’re just differently balanced individuals.
I scored into the 90th percentile, lived among the 10%, and knew with 100% certainty that I did absolutely nothing to earn any of it. I just lucked out. I ended up being what most colleges wanted for their own capitalistic and inhumane notions. The undergraduate university that I attended couldn’t have cared less about me. They wanted my Dad’s wallet and my grades. That did not make me superior. That just made them opportunistic.