Excerpts from 2018 spring Commencement speeches at Virginia’s Community Colleges:
“Through my success in business and success in politics, none of that would have been possible if I had not I hadn’t been willing to try, but also to take the consequences of failure. …There is nothing wrong with failure, as long as you’re able to get back up and get back into the game. The truth is — you didn’t get here alone. There’s someone out there in the crowd who encouraged you along the way. “After graduation, go find them. Don’t tweet them. Don’t Snapchat them. Don’t Facebook them. Go call them and thank them and tell them that you love them.”
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. All of us have the capacity to change the world. And we have been given the opportunity to articulate and express ourselves better than ever through our education. …
“I, too, have been paralyzed by the fear that nothing I do matters. But the world and our lives are not a static thing. Cultures, beliefs, ideas about good and evil, technology, all of these things are constantly changing and are influenced by people just like us. We will change the world!”
“We didn’t have a lot of money but we had faith, hope and optimism… We had people who loved us who said ‘no matter how dark today may seem, tomorrow can be brighter.’ And you have to believe that every single day of your life.
“Work every day to be worthy of your ancestors’ dreams. Lift other people as you climb, and repay the spiritual wealth that you have received in your lives by creating opportunities for others by doing good in the world.
“Never forget that what happens next is up to you.”
“You can find wisdom in some pretty unexpected places. And I want to share a favorite moment from one of my favorite TV shows, “The Office.”
“The boss in a dysfunctional office, played by Steve Carell, is trying to pep up his workers, and says, ‘Everyone said to Vincent Van Gogh, you can’t be a great painter if you only have one ear. And do you know what he said? “I can’t hear you!”’
“The message is, don’t let what other people say limit you. If you want something and you are willing to work for it, then go for it. People may talk about you your entire life. Why not give them something good to talk about?”
“Community college students are all juggling hardships while going to class.
“Even if we are broken and hurting spiritually or mentally, if we just get out of bed and show up, we uncover our grit and eventually we’ll accomplish what we set out to do before the adversities came our way. It took me a long time to realize that this is our greatest strength and asset when facing hardship.
“All of us here today are a representation of tenacity and our own individual strength as we overcame our hardships to get here, no matter how big or small.
“Now take a deep breath and exhale because we are conquerors, we are fighters and we did it!”
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