the Board of Trustees, President and Mrs. Todd, the
Party, the proud families `and friends,
and especially to the greatest class that has ever
graduated from the University of Kentucky…Today’s
date, May 8th, will always be memorable for us as graduates.
From here on, the mark of achievement is upon us all,
academically and indelibly; so let us rejoice in that,
because now we fare forth, and the world where we are
to make our mark lies before us. We are the class of
Some would view us the end of the most tempestuous,
change-driven century of the millennium. Others think
of us as the hopeful, better beginning of a new
era. However we are viewed, in truth, we are nothing but ourselves. We have
slid out of Generation X into our own. Appropriately
coined Generation Y, we are the
ones who ask for faster, longer, safer, fairer, and better. We are the sons
and daughters of baby-boomers, farmers, veterans,
ex-hippies, and civil rights activists.
Yes, we are a diverse group, yet we accept that diversity whole-heartedly.
We all have our own beliefs. We hail from the
East Coast, the West Coast, and all
stops in-between infinity and beyond. We are actors, artists, writers, and
musicians. Some are mechanics, carpenters,
accountants, engineers, doctors, and programmers.
We are runners, jumpers, hitters, and throwers. In short, we are leaders, freethinkers,
and dreamers. None of us has a certificate or signature that confirms any of
this quite yet, but we have all experienced these roles in the society that
the University of Kentucky. We should not say “I want to be,” or
even “I will be,” but instead “I am.”
We are the past and we are the future. And on this
trip into the future, setting our sails towards
the noble goal of a just and civil society,
we have only
education as our compass whose needle guides us towards our humanity. We
that we are done with our education now that we enter adulthood. Rather,
we must continue to strive towards that noble
goal of civilization, by creating
and not ignorant society. Our fight is to teach the world about science so
that we will understand our world, what is possible and what is not. We need
language so that we can read and comprehend, staying current and balanced.
Moreover, language enables us to read the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and
for the only time in some of our lives understand the coming of age of an African-American
woman. We need art to know what we would be missing if we only knew science;
and we need math for it is the universal language. We need history so that we
may know the past and may not be condemned to repeat our errors.
Civilization is our humanity, and what makes us
human makes us think. We must be educated so
that we can be the best we can be as human
can create justice, understanding, and compassion.
Now that we are embarking on the rest of our lives,
I challenge you to never stop thinking or learning.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald said in “Tender is the
Night”: “Either you think or else others have to think for you and
take power from you.” When we stop thinking, we lose the power that makes
us uniquely human. So whether you are attending graduate school, planning to
start work, going into the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines, never stop learning.
The world is more than grades, more than words in textbooks. The world is a powder
keg of knowledge, and we are all the fuses.
What we do is so important, for we will affect
people’s lives and their
happiness. And our humanity and education is what will decide whether
we are kind or cruel, fair or unjust. Educate
yourself and your children, your neighbors
and your parents. Teach
them all you can, show them the civility within you and the education
We, the class of 2004, have the awesome power of
knowledge. Education has been a gift from these
wonderful parents and educators, and I ask
learn and use what you have. Don’t ever assume it is time to stop. We close
a door so we can open another. We are the dreams of the past, the energy of the
present, and the inheritors of the future. We have gone, and will go, farther
than the moon to reach for the stars. We follow a set of paths vastly different
from those tread by our ancestors, perhaps even those by our parents, which may
cross in the future, or may not. As Robert Frost wrote:
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
In some ways, the class of 2004 has already done this,
because we…we took to the task of learning.
Thank you and good luck.