To all 2010 Graduates– congratulations!
For Washington University graduates, their families and their friends, Commencement is a wonderful time of celebration. You have worked hard and accomplished much during your time here. At the heart of every great University are its students, and I could not be more proud of all of you for your many contributions and achievements. While learning a great deal, you have also created new knowledge, enriched our faculty and served the citizens of St. Louis. All of us who call Washington University home are better because you were here.
As your Chancellor, I have enjoyed watching you excel during your career at Washington University. I feel fortunate to have been here during such an exciting time for our students. In these past few months, many of you raised awareness about the importance of public transportation to St. Louis and made a clear statement of support that contributed to the passing of an important ballot measure on April 6. Last year, you welcomed the world to our campus as we hosted the vice-presidential debate—the most watched Debate in history! You helped us to open the Danforth University Center—the campus “living room” that will hereafter be linked with the Washington University student experience. I have admired your efforts to educate our community about the responsible use of energy technology and issues related to environmental sustainability. You have demonstrated that you are talented on the playing field, bringing home more national championships than in any other era in our history. Members of the graduating class have brought positive benefits to many—organizing service trips, coordinating fundraisers and leading numerous theatrical performances. It is astonishing to reflect on all that you have experienced and the tremendous impact you have had on our community during such a short time.
As many are compelled to do during life’s moments of transition, I would like to share with you one important piece of advice as you leave here on the next stage of your journey: Take advantage of the great opportunities that lie before you. Looking beyond the boundaries of Washington University, one can easily become discouraged. While the economy is showing signs of life today, there is still uncertainty in the financial future. People around the world continue to die from treatable illnesses and malnutrition and even lack access to clean water. The recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a reminder of the great harm humankind can bring to the earth’s environment. Yet, you have been given a great opportunity. Studying alongside the most academically talented students in America, you have been educated by a world-class faculty. You have learned how to analyze complex problems and how to motivate others to action. You are a graduate of Washington University—one of the world’s premier universities. Some of you are already responding to great opportunities by joining innovative companies, being involved in creative arts, becoming teachers or advancing to graduate or professional school. For all of you, great opportunities still lie ahead. I am confident that you leave here not only with the promise of living happy, productive and fulfilling lives, but also with the ability to make a positive difference in our world.
While your time here is drawing to a close, I want you to know that you will always be a part of the Washington University family. We are proud of you, and you should be proud to be a graduate of Washington University. I join my colleagues on the faculty, along with the rest of the staff and administrative team, in saying, “Congratulations and best wishes for many future successes!”
Mark S. Wrighton is chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.