Ambassador’s Welcome Remarks Graduation Ceremony at Deree/American College of Greece, June 25, 2016

Graduation Ceremony at Deree/ACG (Photo by ACG)
Graduation Ceremony at Deree/ACG (Photo by ACG)

Saturday 25 June 2016 – 7:45 p.m.

Deree/ACG Campus, Agia Paraskevi

Dr. Horner, Dr. Meehan, faculty and staff, family and friends, graduates, welcome everyone.  It is an honor to be with you tonight.

Members of the class of 2016, congratulations on reaching this milestone in your lives.  Congratulations as well to your families and friends for helping you get this far.  You are just a few speeches away from your degree, so I will keep this short!

I want to offer you just a few thoughts as you start the next phase of your lives.  These are three “rules of the road” that I have tried to follow and shared with my own daughter and son:

First, always build on what’s best in yourself.  That means continuously examine who you are and what your interests are.  Respect those things. Remember the people and the values that helped shape you.

Second, always look for what’s best in others.  As I learned from my parents, life is a lot less trouble if you spend it lifting people up, not putting people down.  Nobody’s perfect.  Help others to learn and develop when you can.

And third, always, always do your best in whatever you attempt.  Believe in yourself.  Take risks.  It’s never too late to do something if you are really committed to it.  But make the effort to do it well. My father used to say ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get.’

The American College of Greece has given you skills that you can use to achieve your goals.  But, now it is your choice how you actually use both your education and talents.

As you go about the process of starting to make these choices, which is both terrifying and fun, try to keep in mind that the value of your lives isn’t measured by what you are able to buy.  It’s measured by what you contribute.

I hope many of you will choose to give something back in service to your community and your countries.  There are many important battles out there to be fought.   Don’t stand on the sidelines.   Pick your fight and get involved.

I’ll give you an example.  Α college student in Massachusetts, Marleny DaRosa, was horrified by the violence against women in Africa, such as the Boko Haram kidnappings in Nigeria.  In 2012, she traveled to the Netherlands to observe the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was convicted of murder, rape and terrorism.  After graduating in 2013, she started a non-profit organization called Africa’s Women of Valor.  Her group is dedicated to telling the stories of women who are fighting violence against women in different countries in Africa and around the world.  She’s telling the stories of everyday heroines whose work often goes unnoticed.  This is all happening because of an idea one college student had.

I also hope some of you will think about a career in public service – you may not make as much money as you will in business or the professions – but there are few things more personally rewarding than serving your country.  And it’s a great thing to represent your country.  I’ve had the privilege of doing this for 35 years now – and I can tell you, if you work hard you really can make a difference.  And there’s no better job than giving back to your community, your state, your country.

So build on what’s best of yourself, always look for what’s best in others, work hard, and look for a chance to give back.  You’ll be glad you did.

In closing, let me again offer my congratulations.  Συγχαρητήρια, και σας εύχομαι κάθε επιτυχία στη ζωή σας!

Thank you very much.