Congratulations to the members of the Class of 2012 and to the friends, family and supporters who helped you arrive at this joyous day. I am delighted to be here with you celebrating your years of study, professional engagements and social development.
We call this honored ceremony “Commencement,” because it is a beginning not an ending, the start of your life’s next chapter, as it grows organically from your Drexel years. Even as we celebrate the accomplishments of your college years, we look ahead to your composing the narrative of your future.
Here you have learned how to study and to think critically, to design, analyze, measure and synthesize ideas. You have learned to question, even to question those forces that make you want to question.
You have learned to express yourselves with clarity and, at times, with eloquence. You have learned teamwork and individual responsibility, to value differences and to celebrate shared accomplishments. You know about the crucial necessity for accuracy. And you have developed a deep respect for acting always with honesty and integrity. In short, you have earned one of life’s most precious achievements: A Drexel degree.
Where will your accomplishments here at Drexel lead? What is this story’s next chapter? That, dear graduates, is a narrative you are about to compose. And the world you are about to enter—just like the one you are leaving—will be shaped by your particular narrative.
The poet John Milton writes, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” He’s reminding us that reality is not a given but a potential: your mind—your being-- participates in making the reality you will inhabit.
You have the power not only to affect how you perceive situations and people but actively to create hope from despair, something worthwhile from a seemingly valueless situation.
And how you frame your vision of that future, how you apply that power, is your narrative--and it makes all the difference. Yours may be the narrative of your new venture, your new invention, your new design or initiative or graduate study, or service to an organization or to humanity. You are the storytellers of futurity, the narrators of the adventures you will be creating and leading.
It’s a thrilling prospect, fraught with anxieties and animated by dreams—with plans that succeed and some disappointments along the way.
“In dreams,” W.B. Yeats says, “begin responsibilities.” Enacting your life’s narrative becomes your responsibility though the future, ironically, is never wholly within your control. Still, your achievements at Drexel prompt the opportunities, beckoning you right now, to continue being the author of your own story.
May all your narratives combine courage with service and may you continue learning as long as you live. Congratulations again on this stunning achievement.