Do you have an internship or job lined up?
Where will you go?
These are the questions every graduate gets asked.
They are the wrong questions. Anyone can be anything. Anyone can go anywhere. And more importantly, many people change career paths multiple times. So there is a bigger question that never gets asked.
WHO are you going to be?
It's been said before many times, but now as our University (not to mention the whole Country) faces troubled times, it is time to think about who We Are.
Many students come to Penn State because of the respect they will garner with their degree in whatever field they chose to study. They then receive the valuable document and go there own way.
I would like to ask this year's graduates, as well as the incredible alumni base for more. To go beyond intellectual prominence and economic influence. To become the beacon of light that everyone else looks to in this country. That on top of being educated by one of the finest institutions in the world, we become the country's best people.
Everywhere I look in the national news I seem to see scandals. From the Colombian prostitutes with the secret service, the wiretapping and cell hacking scandal of Rupert Murdoch. In professional sports we have the New Orleans Saints Bounty Gate, and the NBPA's Billy Hunter who's accused of gross nepotism. We have the tragic cases of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr, an unarmed vet who was shot and killed by the Police as well as Trayvon Martin. Then of course there is what happened here in State College.
Right now there is an opportunity though because of what happened here.
Right now all eyes are on US as Penn Staters.
Not in a few years.
Not in few months.
Not in weeks.
Every time someone asks where I'm from, or where I went to school, my answer is the same for me. Penn State. For the first time in my life, after the events of November, I began to hesitate answering that question. Because for the first time, my answer was not met with respect, admiration, or envy. For the first time my answer was treated with pity, condescension, and anger.
For so long, people would always ask what the best thing about Penn State is. Without fail the spotlight would be cast on Joe Paterno. For so long he held that mantle brilliantly. Sadly, he can do that no more.
But WE can.
We will now be the examples of what Penn State is and will be. It is in our hands as to whether Penn State remains a great institution, or goes into decline without any true direction. It is now up to ALL of Penn State to represent themselves, and their University without fear, and with the values that have been taught to us since we've arrived here.
Pursue your ambitions to the fullest, and do it in earnest. Do not take short-cuts, or lie or cheat to get ahead. Be kind to those around you. Be charitable and thoughtful. Respect others. Get back up after being knocked down. Love as much as you can.
These are as much the qualities of outstanding members of society as much as any score on an exam, a grade in a class, or performance on the field. These are the qualities that show up in people that are educated at Penn State.
If there was ever a time to show what the University and it's alumni are capable of, it's now.
If there was a time to show the rest of the world exactly what Penn State's best looks like, it's now.
Today is Graduation Day. And I'm proud to be a Penn Stater.