Commencement Office
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May 2010 Graduation Address

Thank you, Dr. Raines for those remarks.  I wish to convey to the University of Memphis that the board of regents is extremely proud of Dr. Raines and this university for its many accomplishments and the important part it plays in our state and nation.  Pat and I are pleased to be with these distinguished platform guests, this faculty and staff, parents, grandparents, friends and especially the May 2010 graduating class of the University of Memphis.

I am pleased to be a part of the board of regents system and the University of Memphis.  You are a product of that system and this university.  It works and works well, not because of this superior administration and staff.  Not because of this dedicated faculty (academia).  Not because of the family and friends who have sacrificed to help you reach this plateau.

It works because of you.  Your willingness to work hard.  Your desire to go forward.

As I look over this assembly, I see graduates that are eager to go forward and make a change for the better.  I see promises made and promises kept.

We have heard much over the last two to three years of the market and the increase or decrease in stock values.  We have felt the impact of Wall Street on Main Street.  I am an optimist.  I am inclined to anticipate the best possible outcome of actions and events in the future for you, this state and nation.  Today you pick up your blue chip stock.  The diploma you have earned today will have a direct social benefit and economic advantage to you, but at the same time, it has an economic benefit to the state and nation.

James mercer Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) was and remains a great American poet, novelist and playwright.  He stirred emotions and controversy with his writings.  He, like Dr. Maxine smith who is to be honored today by this university, never abandoned the dream of racial equality. 

Mr. Hughes said in his 1923 poem:

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly

 Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

 You are going forward.  Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain said it another way in a commencement address to an American University.  He simply stood up and said, “Never, never, never give up” and sat down.  The fact that you have reached this plateau of your life proves beyond a doubt that you never gave up and you are going forward.  You must continue to go forward.  To look back is counter-productive.  What counts is what you are doing now and what you plan to do in the future.  The world will not stop and wait.  You must keep up with the time.  You must never stop learning and never stop thinking about how to use today’s knowledge to win the tomorrows.

Thank you.

More from Commencement

Video: watch Maxine Smith's address to the graduates
Video: watch J. Stanley Rogers' address to the graduates
Read Mr. Rogers' address to the graduates
View the Commencement Program

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