Good morning! Buenos dias! Members of the board, President Collado, the distinguished faculty and staff, the beloved family and friends of our graduates — and of course family is important to us — my sister Sally and brother-in-law Louie, who join me today, and of course the most important people here today, the Class of 2019! Congratulations! Felicidades!
I am so honored and humbled to join you on your special day and this momentous occasion.
Class of 2019, you made it! Today is your day to celebrate, to know that all your studying and hard work—those sleepless nights—worked out. They paid off. And you can now binge watch your favorite shows — may that be “The Office,” “Game of Thrones,” “Project Runway,” or whatever is your latest on Netflix — and not feel guilty.
Today is your day, also, to feel your family’s pride in your accomplishments and relish in your achievements.
Now some of you might be wondering why the President of the American Association of State Colleges and University is a commencement speaker at your graduation. Well to start our institutions have a great deal in common. We serve students from all walks of life regardless of their station in their lives or their background. Our biggest similarity is the value both institutions place on creating an inclusive environment, and preparing its graduates — all of you — for working, living and thriving in a multicultural global community.
Your mission statement is clear when it states, and I quote: “Ithaca College is committed to creating an inclusive environment, and attracting a diverse body of students, faculty and staff. All members of this college community are encouraged to achieve excellence in their chosen fields, and to share the responsibilities of citizenship and serve in the global community.”
These are not just worth collecting dust on some shelf. They are the tenants upon which our respective institutions were founded. I know Ithaca upholds these tenants, not just because I see the beautiful diversity of the graduating class before me, but because I am familiar with the work of your president, Dr. Shirley Collado, a national international leader, who is passionate about student success and anxious in creating the next leaders — and that includes all of you graduates — to continue to build the capacity of equity, inclusion and participation in our democratic, multicultural nation.