2006 - All

Thoughts at Commencement 

Agnes Scott College

Atlanta, GA
May 13, 2006
Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor
"U.S. college graduates are facing one of the best job markets we've ever seen. Our country is transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, which places a premium on technology and education. The majority of the 5.3 million new jobs created in the last two and a half years in our country require a higher level of education and skill sets. So by graduating today, you have taken the first step to a bright future. The more you invest in yourselves through education and training, the more the new knowledge economy will reward you.”

Alverno College

Milwaukee, WI
May 20, 2006
Susan E. Lennon, executive director of the Women's College Coalition
"Now, more than ever - for all the daughters who will follow in our footsteps, the daughters who will be the next generation of intrepid pioneers blazing new ground, the daughters who will create new visions for the 21 st Century - there could not be a more important time to make the case for the education and advancement of women.  Wherever your journey takes you, take your courage to listen and make a life worth living.  Make this world a better place in which to live.  Continue to surround yourself with people and experiences that will engage and inspire you, that will challenge and support you to be bold, to take risks, and to set higher expectations for yourself - and for all of us."

Barnard College

New York, NY
May 16, 2006
Francine du Plessix Gray '52, author and winner of the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for her memoir, Them: A Memoir of Parents
"You have to give hell to entrenched power when it violates our notions of human justice. Whether it be on the issue of racial integration or gay rights or sexual equality or the pathetic state of health care in this country or one of the dumbest military excursions ever waged by an American government - the Iraq War - your motto should be 'Give 'em hell, give 'em hell, give 'em hell!' There are never enough troublemakers fighting for justice, so go out there and give 'em hell to create a better world for you and your children to grow into."

Bay Path College

Longmeadow, MA
May 20, 2006
Elinor Lipman, author of nine books, including My Latest Grievance

"Perhaps I can say, 'Follow your dream' in a way that's fresh.  As in: don't let anyone discourage you.  Don't back down when someone, often a parent or spouse worrying on your behalf, tells you that your dream is admirable, but too many people have that same dream.  What I mean is: don't be afraid to take that leap, that job that challenges you, possibly even scares you, that sends you to a new city as a stranger in a strange land.

(Former) Texas Governor Ann Richards once said, 'Never turn down a new experience unless it's against the law or it's going to get you in real serious trouble.'  If you have your heart set on a field that is famously hard to break into, famously competitive, listen to the voice inside you that whispers - in defiance of the naysayers and against the odds - 'I could be the one.'"

Bennett College for Women

Greensboro, NC
May 6, 2006
Phylicia Rashad, actress, who is best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show
"Being Bold will serve and protect you.  Being Beautiful comforts and encourages others.  People become Free when they embrace the deepest and truest part of themselves."

Brescia University College

London, Ontario, Canada
May 7, 2006
Susan Horvath, President of Mt Sinai Hospital Foundation (Toronto)
"Never grow old. Grow wise. Grow experienced. But never convince yourself that you are too old to try something new.  Fuel the passion.  Your passion.  The passion of others.  If you are passionate about something - your family, your lover, your work, your sport, your children - you will give it your all - and no one can ask for more than that."

Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, PA
May 13, 2006
Judith Resnik '72, legal scholar, pioneer of the study of gender bias in the American legal system, and the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School
"One can have no romance about either the global or the local.  And, because we cannot assume that any one level of power - international, transnational, national, or local - can be an enduring source of equality and dignity, we must be engaged and work actively at all of these levels.  It is not the source of law that guarantees a law's quality but the people who make those laws who will give us either hope or despair."

Carlow University

Pittsburgh, PA
May 13, 2006
Doreen Boyce, president of the Buhl Foundation

"I am ever grateful for the liberal education upon which my professional training was built and which I value more as I grow older. What I now realize is that at the heart of liberal education are the eternal verities which are at the very core of what it is to be human.  

This is why we study the Ancient Greeks, the religions of the world, great art, history of people, and why concepts like beauty, justice, faith, truth, will always be challenging to the educated person who seeks to lead a life of integrity.  But these essential elements of man find their expression today in a world of unprecedented change. 

In the midst of all this change, your security will lie in knowledge and skills, which you have begun to build in this good place.  If you have learned how to learn, you have learned the great lesson."

Chatham University

Pittsburgh, PA
April 29, 2006
Doreen Boyce, president of the Buhl Foundation
"Your education will be your greatest asset, but you must maintain it.  There are very few people from whom you can't learn, but you will need to reach out, to listen, and to observe. Make the most of the place where you live. Find the friends and mentors and partners that want you to be the best you can be, and when they can they will help you get there - and do the same for them."
Patti M. Peterson, executive director of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars
"I am counting on the enlarged perspective of your education to remind you frequently that you live in a global village and that by virtue of your knowledge you will feel a special obligation to consider the rest of the world in all that you do.  If your generation can effectively reach out to the other inhabitants of the global village with sensitivity, generosity, and humility and require your political leaders to do so as well, we will live in a better, safer world."

College of Notre Dame of Maryland

Baltimore, MD
May 26, 2006
Bob Schieffer, anchor of the CBS Evening News

"There will be those who tell you it is all right to cut corners, that the end justifies the means. Remind them of what Gandhi said: "The end reflects the means.” Remember the honor code that you lived under here. It is a good guide for the rest of your life because it is rooted in the values that are and will remain the great strength of this country.

Young people today find themselves under enormous pressure to be successful, but that is the wrong game plan. Pursue those things that interest and excite you. Strive for excellence rather than success. If you achieve that, success will usually follow."