Ladies and Gentlemen, parents, families and friends of the Class of 2006, and most importantly, members of the Class of 2006: let me say how pleased I am to accept this honorary degree and to be here with you today.
There are few moments more exciting than a college graduation and perhaps none that more clearly symbolize the strength of our great nation, our confidence in its future, and the wealth of our society.
Today I welcome the opportunity to share just a few thoughts with you about the world of the 21st century for which this class of newly minted graduates soon will accept a great deal of responsibility.
For all the challenges we face in this world—about which we read each morning in the newspapers—let me note that you, the class of 2006, are entering an era of global interdependence that is full of promise and opportunity.
Good things can and will happen in this century to the extent that you involve yourself deeply in its affairs.
Telecommunications, trade, the spread of productive technologies, advances in medicine, agriculture, other fields of critical research, and a growing sense of common global destiny can and should be your allies as you shape the future.
As someone who has spent his life in international affairs, I can hardly be expected not to emphasize to you the enormous advantages of looking beyond our borders for friends and partners in all that you do. No international problem can be solved without international cooperation—not terrorism, not HIV/AIDs, not poverty, not the preservation of the Earth’s precious ecosystem.
And as someone who has spent his life in public service, I also would point out to you that spending at least some portion of your career in government or international organizations is extremely rewarding. In diplomacy, where I have devoted most of my efforts, and in intelligence, where I currently am engaged, we want you to come join us. You have demonstrated the talents and acquired the skills necessary to safeguard our nation’s security, and just as critical, defend and advance our values.
Finally, let me urge you to always remember the hope and optimism you feel right now. Never let it go. The more you draw on the excitement of this moment, the more energy you will have to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, and the greater the contributions you will make to your country and to the world.
Congratulations, God Speed, and thank you again for granting me this honorary degree, and for inviting me to be with you on this very important day.