Over the past weekend, you couldn’t turn on the news without seeing a story about the speeches made by politicians at commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2012. After President Obama officially declared his stance on gay marriage, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made it a point to remind the Liberty University graduates of his position on the subject during his address to the students.
While some speeches were more politically charged, others offered genuine inspiration. On a sunny morning in Washington D.C., under a blazing sun and sapphire sky, the graduates of Howard received words of wisdom from a host, a secretary and a Legend.
Although these notable men spoke directly to the Howard grads, their encouragement and advice are applicable to all those starting their post-undergraduate journey.
1. “Never say ‘no’ to yourself.” – a host
Journalist and host of MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews, humorously acknowledged that most of his remarks probably would not be remembered by the crowd. But one thing he wanted the students to remember always ask and go for what you want. Don’t hold yourself back — let someone else tell you ‘no’, but never say ‘no’ to own aspirations. Go for the “breakthrough” job.
2. “Pursue your passion even if it takes you down an unconventional path.” – a secretary
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education and keynote speaker at the ceremony, told the audience about his dreams of being a professional basketball player. Although he did not make it to the NBA, he didn’t let his dream die. He played in a professional league in Australia, where he met his wife, Karen. Everyone’s story is different. There are many trails to success — blaze your own!
3. “Use your success to help others.” – a Legend
John Legend, a Grammy-award-winning artist and philanthropist, approached the podium in his usual humble fashion and reminded the graduates of their great achievement — but also reminded them to give back. Legend uses his own star-power to advocate for children in poverty who don’t have access to good education. While you may personally benefit from your degree, remember to use it to make a way for others to benefit as well. It will make it worth that much more.
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