June 29, 2019, 8:53 p.m.
Καλησπέρα σας. Thank you, President Horner, for your warm introduction. Faculty, students, family and friends, distinguished guests: it’s an honor to be with you as you celebrate Deree’s graduating Class of 2019.
Today is an important landmark in all of your lives that also comes at a moment of inflection for your country. To the great credit of the Greek people, you have finally exited your bailout programs, and in a week, Greece will elect its first government of the post-crisis era. And my government will be strongly invested in the success of the leadership that you will choose.
The resilience of Greece, and Greek democracy, through these years of great economic stress is mirrored in the stories of Greek students and entrepreneurs, like yourselves, who discovered through the years of crisis that overcoming life’s obstacles requires much experimentation, and often, some failure and sacrifice.
Over the past three years in Greece, I’ve watched young people across the country forge new paths, collaborate with one another, and invent new outlets for their immense talent and creativity. And it is this human capital that makes me optimistic about Greece’s future.
Of course, your Deree degrees set you apart, combining Greek roots with the best of American educational principles. Our nations share a common spirit and common values: faith in the power of education and hard work, natural curiosity and a desire to innovate, loyalty to our families and communities, and an unwavering commitment to future generations.
You, Deree, and millions of others form the people-to-people ties that weave our nations closer together than ever before. And on a personal note, my Embassy and I are grateful for the smart, driven Deree students we host each year as Embassy interns. We welcome and depend on their contributions to advance our bilateral relationship.
So with great pride, I join faculty, family, and friends in honoring all of the graduates, including Panagiota Price-Kontoleon, a friend of Mary and I for nearly thirty years who introduced us to the Greek concept of “filotimo” long before we discovered the beauties of this land.
Socrates, one of mankind’s greatest teachers, said, that “The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.” The older I grow, the more I recognize the wisdom of those words. I hope that you will leave Deree with both a hunger for knowledge and awe for all that you do not know. I am confident that your parents, friends, teachers, and mentors will stand behind you as you embark on this new journey. And may your futures be as bright as the Aegean sun.
Ευχαριστώ πολύ και συγχαρητήρια.