2007- All

Thoughts at Commencement

Agnes Scott College

Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2007
Beverly Daniel Tatum, noted author, scholar, administrator and race relations expert, and President of Spelman College:

"I would like to suggest that you need to maintain a discipline of hope. I use the word ‘discipline’ intentionally. Like regular exercise is a discipline, so is the maintenance of hope. The more you do it, the easier it gets – but like establishing a regular pattern of exercise, it requires a certain amount of will power."

Alverno College

Milwaukee, WI
May 14, 2007
Carole Meekins, anchorwoman, TODAY’S TMJ4, Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate:

"Part of learning is to make a personal pledge to give back. The educated must not ignore the disenfranchised, the underprivileged, the poor, the unlucky. As we see on the news, thousands need a lift."

Barnard College

New York, NY
May 15, 2007
Anna Deavere Smith, actress, playwright, teacher and author:
"Relationships. Cyndi Stivers told me that the best way for me to approach today was to do some version of 'You go, girl.' So I suppose I'm saying to you with what I've said so far -- take it and go. You go, girls.

Now, once you say 'girls,' it sounds like it should be 'women,' but you get the point. Find other girls and men and people from around the world with whom you can collaborate and do great projects. No one holds the story anymore. When I was doing research at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, they wear around their necks lanyards that say 'Make Cancer History.' They understand that no one individual will make that history. Collaborations, teams, making promises to work well with one another.

Stay in the struggle. Stay strong. Be new. Be you. To each of you, I say: You go, girl!"

Brescia University College

London, Ontario, Canada
May 6, 2007
Ann Hawkins ’63, Ann Hawkins Associates Limited:

"Today is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Each chapter requires a fresh vision, new plans and inner courage as you shift gears from yesterday’s commitments as a student to tomorrow’s possibilities as a graduate and Brescia alumna."

Brenau University

Gainesville, GA
May 11, 2007
The Honorable Nathan Deal, U.S. House of Representatives:

"An educated person never stops learning. In our world of talk radio, talk television and internet talk, there is no shortage of those who will gladly do your thinking for you. They will even sell you subscriptions to their opinions so that you can do more important things than forming your own.

One of the great ironies of our time is that our right to freedom of expression is so readily hijacked by a few who believe that only their expressions are worthy of listening to. Continue your learning process; exert independence of thought that gives true meaning to freedom."

Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, PA
May 20, 2007
Jane Eisner, vice president for national programs and initiatives, National Constitution Center:

"Gratitude can be the hallmark of our humanity. It lifts us out of isolation and ignorance by connecting us to others. And so here is my challenge to you.

If common sense, personal experience and scientific evidence show the worth of gratitude in human relations, how do we extend that value into the public square?

National service serves the individual imperative to be grateful – there’s no faster way to appreciate what you have than by seeing the greater needs of others. Widespread national service is the best way to create grateful citizens and serve social needs."

Jane Eisner

Carlow University

Pittsburgh, PA
May 12, 2007

Sr. Margaret Hannan '65, RSM, president of the Sisters of Mercy, Pittsburgh Regional Community:

"There are plenty of challenges in today’s society that await you: violence, discrimination, consumerism, the environment, to name a few.

We live in a violent world. When you walk through life reverencing others, accepting with equal grace those you like and those you dislike, friend and foe alike, you’ll make a difference in this world.

Our world discriminates making judgments according to race, religion, cultural practices and economic means. When you embrace the differences, and work peaceably with diversity, you’ll make a difference.

Sr. Margaret Hannan

We live in a throw-away, consumer society, a world of waste and harm to Earth. When you honor creation and grow in mindfulness of your imprint on the planet, you’ll make a difference.

When you apply to your everyday life the skills in critical thinking and the research that you practiced in your academic discipline at Carlow, when you blend contemplation and action in your search for God, you live a life of depth and meaning marked by values you experienced here.

To counter our world’s self-centeredness, show others that they matter by engaging in service not only with intellectual competence but also with heartfelt compassion and a spirit of welcome. That’s the Mercy difference.

Today you leave here with a degree that you earned. But more importantly, you leave here with the legacy of Mercy that you inherited.

You mattered at Carlow. Now, share your skills and your inheritance by letting your family, your colleagues, your friends, your neighbors, everyday strangers that you encounter know that they matter."

Chatham University

Pittsburgh, PA
April 22, 2007
Linda Lear, biographer of Rachel Carson and Beatrix Potter:

"I am often asked what I think (Rachel) Carson’s final estimate of the future of the stream of life would be. Her particular remedy for entitlement was to instill in our children a ‘sense of wonder’ by which she meant awe in the face of nature’s mystery and majesty. To kindle a regard for its wild beauty and a comprehension of our intimate connection to it. She hoped that such a sense of wonder would make us care. This sounds like an ephemeral cure, but it is the basis of attitudinal change.

Rachel Carson (Chatham ’29) understood, as St. Exupery wrote in The Little Prince, that caring assumed involvement and responsibility. She insisted that our ‘obligation to endure’ makes it imperative for us to be active. We are part of the stream of life, and our future cannot be considered apart from the future of the whole."

The College of New Rochelle

New Rochelle, NY
May 24, 2007
Brother Rick Curry, S.J., Founder and Artistic Director, The National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped:

"The only deprivation we have comes from ignorance. Embrace all of your limitations – they too are gifts. And accept other people’s limitations – those too are gifts. Celebrate their differences. Celebrate your differences. Never forget He who gave you those gifts; He makes no trash."

College of Notre Dame of Maryland

Baltimore, MD
May 25, 2007
Rev. Robert F. Leavitt, SS, President-rector, St. Mary's Seminary and University:

"If human conversation isolates itself from open debate and discussion with faith and religion, it will fall victim to its own arrogance and its own dogmatism.

After all, science, technology and politics aren't the only means for grasping the world or helping us decide how to live. They shouldn't be. Religion, ethics and our own Catholic faith as well as a global and historic religious community have a crucial role to play as well. College of Notre Dame has never forgotten that. Neither should you.

Robert F. Leavitt

Every appeal for reason and every skill you gain in college to reason better brings you closer to a civilized and productive life and a richer faith. The religion, too, must always test itself against reason. Irrational claims anywhere are unworthy of us."