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Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had a simple message for graduates at the College of William & Mary’s spring commencement ceremony Saturday: Education changes lives, but comes with responsibilities.
More than 2,500 students received degrees during the ceremony, including 1,672 bachelor’s degrees and 854 graduate degrees.
Rice, who served as National Security Advisor and secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree for her achievements as a diplomat and policymaker.
A video of Rice’s complete remarks is available below, along with the text of William & Mary president Taylor Reveley’s remarks.
President Taylor Reveley’s Remarks
Be of good cheer everyone – we approach the end of these ceremonies. The president is now supposed to offer wise words to our graduates. At this point in the Commencement proceedings each year, I report that I feel like the corpse at an Irish wake. You need me to have the party, but you don’t expect me to say anything.
But I have the podium! Here are the bare bones of three important realities that deserve a parting salute.
First, hard work. There is a strong link between serious accomplishment and hard work. It usually takes a lot of time and effort to produce exceptional results in any area of human endeavor. So, Class of 2015, we all do better when we’re willing to work hard.
Second, purpose. Most of us also do better when we have a sense of purpose, rooted in what matters most to us, in what we believe it’s worth spending our lives pursuing. Often it takes a while to figure our purpose out, to decide what really does matter most to us; to some extent our understanding of personal purpose will likely keep evolving as the years roll on. That’s OK, each of us just needs to keep thinking about purpose and responding to its call as the call becomes clear.
Third, one indispensable aspect of purpose that’s deeply ingrained in the DNA of William & Mary people is doing some good for other people. It’s vital for us keep at this, even when efforts are modest.
Class of 2015, I’ve seen a lot during the 50 years since I graduated from college in June 1965. In my experience, and to say again what I just said, it’s important for each of us to be willing to work hard on things that matter. It’s important for each of us to figure out what does matter to us, what does gives guiding purpose to our lives. And it’s important that part of our purpose be to use some of our time, talent and resources for the good of our fellow humans.
But Class of 2015, I believe you already know all this. You are William & Mary people.