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Prof Smith, associate dean, research, at the university College of Education, was addressing more than 370 graduates, mainly in teaching, education and pharmacy, at the first of six end-of-year ceremonies, at the Dunedin Town Hall on Saturday.
He reminded graduates of advice he had given to his own children before they had gone to university: ''Beware of people who know the truth''.
That comment also applied to him, and he urged graduates to pay attention to his advice only ''if it rings true for you''.
''If it doesn't, then just enjoy the moment and continue texting with your friends,'' he joked.
''In this world, people will profess to own a little corner of the truth, and sometimes they will will try to convince you that your own life will be better if you follow their path.
''But you've got your own path to follow. It may take a bit of clearing at times, cutting back the brush and trying to see just where the path is taking you.''
Through pursuing careers in education, some graduates had chosen to ''save children from illiteracy, from ignorance, from intolerance'' and to ''help others to live their lives to the fullest and to have the best possible tomorrows''.
And in urging pharmacy graduates also to strive to help others, he reminded them they had joined with the medical profession ''to save people from illness, from infirmity, from affliction''.
''You have chosen careers to help others live their lives to the fullest and to have the best possible tomorrows.''
He recommended three ideas for living a life of ''happiness, productivity and meaning'': to strive to be happy, to ''dedicate at least part of your life to helping others'' and to seek some truth in life, including through religion, philosophy, or through family.
And he reminded them of comments often made by children during car trips: ''Are we there yet?''
''Your graduation today does not mean you've found the light at the end of the tunnel. It means you've found the tunnel.''
The truth was ''way down there somewhere''.