Parents and Families. Faculty and Administration. Friends, and Fellow Graduates.
Tonight, this ceremony marks a transition for our class. We are no longer boys and girls, but young men and young women, now not only responsible for ourselves, but for others as well.
We realize that this Real World we are now crossing into is, although a world of many possibilities, it is still not a utopia.
Corporate executives receive hundreds of millions of dollars to do their jobs, and receive millions more when they are fired. Then you have WorldCom, Tyco, Enron, and other scandals, where the top executives took advantage of their employees by feigning success purely to satisfy their enormous greed. Our country is engaged in a controversial war in foreign lands, and casualties continue to mount. Many politicians spit out half-truths and, sometimes, outright lies to convince others that they are correct.
This, unfortunately, is the forge in which we must shape our futures.
“So what?” some of you may be asking. Corporate executives have always been greedy, wars have always been controversial, and politicians have always been deceptive.
The point is that in entering the Real World, we graduates have the opportunity to make it exponentially better. Our future is the future of our country and our world, because eventually it is our generation who will become the politicians and executives, scientists and writers, trades-people, educators, and parents. From this point on, our thoughts and actions shape not only our own individual lives, but also the world in which we live.
As we blaze our trails through life, we must remember what is most important. And that is that we must stand up for what is right in everything that we do. There is nothing wrong with success, but in our success we must not forget that we are still human, still individuals, inherently equal to each other.
Not all of us will rise to positions of power, but each one of us still can be a catalyst for positive change in our daily lives. Those of us going to college can run for student government, or be involved in campus service organizations. Those of you going into the workforce can run for local offices or help out in the community. And those of you going into the military are already performing one of the highest services you can, placing your lives on the line to defend our country. But most importantly, all of us now have the right to vote, and we should not, must not squander that right.
In a few short minutes we will become official citizens of the Real World. In our lives we must not forget that we have the power to transform our world for the better, and it is our responsibility to use that power. This is our chance to take action, and we have the obligation to do so.