Commencement season is once again upon us. It is an exciting time but one that is often met with mixed emotions as students face uncertainty when looking towards the future. Notable speakers will provide encouragement and advice to graduating classes as students enter the next stage of their lives. As I think of words of wisdom to share with aspiring graduates, I am reminded of the commencement address Former First Lady Barbara Bush gave to the Wellesley College Class of 1990, which is considered one of the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by university scholars.
Mrs. Bush discussed the importance of remaining true to oneself. She offered three pieces of advice: get involved in the movements that will shape your world, find joy in life no matter the path you choose, and invest in your relationships with others. My grandfather offered similar guidance upon my graduation: “Meet someone new every day” and, “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.” That advice has served me well. Building new relationships and making connections are important -in politics, in business, and in life- but it is essential, too, to nurture your relationships with those who matter most.
Similarly, finding success takes time, hard work, and commitment. I recently had the pleasure of joining the graduating students of Cristo Rey Boston High School at their Academic Signing Day where they revealed their college selections. Many Cristo Rey students are the first in their families to attend college, and all Cristo Rey Boston graduates are accepted to college. Their life journeys thus far are defined by challenge, audacity, and determination. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of watching Cristo Rey students graduate high school, then complete undergraduate and graduate school, and go on to do incredible things. I look forward to seeing how they will change the world.
To me, the most important trait students can learn is to never stop being a student – of work, of politics, of the news, and of the world. Keep an open mind in all aspects of your life, embrace new experiences, new challenges. Being a lifelong learner will allow you to better understand others and help you establish your place in the world. Opportunity abounds. Now is the time to take risks, seek adventure, and chase your dreams.
I wish congratulations to the Class of 2018 and their parents for all their hard work and success in achieving this impressive accomplishment. To echo the words of Mrs. Bush in her commencement address, “May your future be worthy of your dreams.”