Wow! (Applause.) allow me simply take the in. An initial of all, the is past a pleasure and an honor to be here to celebrate the City university of new York class of 2016! friend all, i mean, this has been the most fun i think I"ve had at a start ever. (Applause.)
Let me simply say a couple of thank yous. Allow me start, of course, through thanking president Coico for that wonderful introduction, for her leadership right here at City College, for this honorary degree.
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I likewise want to acknowledge Senator Schumer, Chancellor Milliken, Trustee Shorter, Edward Plotkin, and also your remarkable valedictorian, Antonios Mourdoukoutas -- go I acquire it right? (Applause.) and also your exceptional salutatorian, Orubba Almansouri. (Applause.) ns really don"t want to monitor those two. (Laughter.) If everyone is wondering about the quality of education, simply listening come those two speakers lets you know what"s keep going here. And I"m therefore proud of friend both -- and also to her families, congratulations. Fine done. Well done. (Applause.)
And that course, let us not forget Elizabeth Aklilu because that her impressive performance of the nationwide Anthem earlier today. She blew it the end of the water. (Applause.)
But many of all, I desire to acknowledge every one of you -– the brilliant, talented, ambitious, accomplished, and also all-around exceptional members the the class of 2016! Woo! (Applause.) You give me chills. You all have worked so hard and also come so far to reach this milestone, for this reason I recognize this is a big day for all of you and also your families, and for everyone at this institution who sustained you top top this journey.
And in numerous ways, this is a huge day for me too. See, this is my an extremely last commencement attend to as first Lady of the joined States. This is it. (Applause.) so I just want to take it it all in. And also I think this was the perfect place to be, since this is my last possibility to share mine love and also admiration, and also hopefully a tiny bit that wisdom through a graduating class.
And, graduates, i really desire you every to understand that there is a factor why, of every one of the colleges and universities in this country, I determined this details school in this particular city because that this one-of-a-kind moment. (Applause.) and also I"m here due to the fact that of every one of you. Ns mean, we"ve talked about it -- Antonios, I"m walking to speak a little bit around diversity, give thanks to you. (Laughter.)
Just look at around. Look at that you are. Look at at whereby we"re gathered today. As the president eloquently said, at this school, girlfriend represent an ext than 150 nationalities. Friend speak an ext than 100 different languages -- whoa, simply stop there. You represent just about every feasible background -– every color and also culture, every faith and also walk of life. And you"ve bring away so numerous different routes to this moment.
Maybe your family members has been in this city for generations, or maybe, like my family, they came to this country centuries back in chains. Probably they simply arrived right here recently, identified to offer you a better life.
But, graduates, no matter where her journey started, you have actually all do it right here today v the same mix of unyielding determination, sacrifice, and also a totality lot of hard work -– commuting hours each day to class, some of you. (Applause.) Yes, amen. (Laughter.) Juggling multiple tasks to assistance your families and pay her tuition. (Applause.) studying late right into the night, at an early stage in the morning; on subways and buses, and also in those few precious minutes during breaks in ~ work.
And somehow, girlfriend still uncovered time to give back to your communities –- tutoring young people, reading to kids, volunteering at hospitals. Somehow, friend still controlled to execute prestigious internships and also research fellowships, and also join every kinds the clubs and activities. And here in ~ this nationally-ranked university, with a rigorous curriculum and also renowned faculty, you rose to the challenge, separating yourselves in your classes, winning plenty of honors and also awards, and getting right into top graduate schools throughout this country. Whoa. (Laughter.)
So, graduates, with your glorious diversity, through your remarkable achievements and your deep commitment to your communities, you all embody the really purpose the this school"s founding. And, much more importantly, you embody the very hopes and also dreams carved into the base of the iconic statue no so much from whereby we sit -- on that island where so countless of your predecessors at this school very first set foot on our shores.
And the is why I want to be here today in ~ City College. I want to be below to celebrate all of you, this school, this city. (Applause.) since I understand that there is no far better way come celebrate this great country 보다 being below with you.
See, every one of you know, because that centuries, this city has been the gateway come America for so many striving, hope-filled immigrant -- folks who left behind whatever they knew to seek out this floor of possibility that they dreamed of. And also so numerous of those folks, because that them, this college was the gateway to actually realizing that possibility in your lives, established on the an essential truth that talent and also ambition recognize no differentiate of race, nationality, wealth, or fame, and committed to the ideals the our founding Fathers placed forth much more than two centuries ago: that we room all developed equal, every entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." City College became a haven for brilliant, urged students the every background, a ar where they didn"t need to hide their last names or your accents, or put on any kind of kind the airs due to the fact that the students in ~ this college were selected based not on pedigree, but on merit, and also merit alone. (Applause.)
So really, it is no accident that this school has developed 10 Nobel compensation winners -- (applause) -- together with countless captains the industry, cultural icons, leader at the greatest levels of government. Since talent and effort an unified with our assorted backgrounds and also life experiences has always been the lifeblood of our singular American genius.
Just take the instance of the great American lyricist, Ira Gershwin, that attended City college a century ago. The child of a Russian-Jewish immigrant, his song still irradiate up Broadway today. Or take into consideration the story the the previous CEO of Intel, Andrew Grove, course of 1960. (Applause.) He to be a Hungarian immigrant who harrowing escape indigenous Nazism and also communism shame both his talent because that business and also his commitment to philanthropy.
And just think around the student in this an extremely graduating course –- students choose the economics and pre-law major from Albania, who likewise completed the requirements for a philosophy major and dreams of being a public intellectual. The educational theater student from right right here in Harlem who"s already an award-winning playwright and also recently spoke at the White House. The biomedical science major who was born in Afghanistan and also plans to be a doctor, a policy maker and an educator. (Applause.) and your salutatorian, whose Yemeni roots influenced her to research Yemini women"s writing and to support for girl in she community, urging castle to discover their own voices, come tell their own stories. I might go on.
These are just four of the virtually 4,000 unique and amazing story in this graduating course –- story that have converged below at City College, this dynamic, inclusive ar where you every have had actually the chance to really acquire to understand each other, to hear to every other"s languages, to gain each other"s food -- lasagna, clearly -- (laughter) -- music, and holidays. Debating every other"s ideas, advertise each various other to question old assumptions and consider brand-new perspectives.
And those interactions have actually been such a vital part the your education and learning at this school. Those moments as soon as your classmates verified you that your stubborn opinion wasn"t all the well-informed -- mmm hmm. (Laughter.) Or as soon as they opened your eyes to an injustice you never ever knew existed. Or as soon as they helped you v a inquiry that you couldn"t have actually possibly answered on her own.
I think your valedictorian put it finest -- and also this is a quote -- the said, "The sole irreplaceable component of mine tastecraftedmcd.com experience came from finding out alongside human being with life experience strikingly various from mine own." he said, "I have actually learned that diversity in human experience provides rise to diversity in thought, i m sorry creates distinct ideas and methods of difficulty solving." that was an okay quote. (Laughter and also applause.) Okay, you"re bright. (Laughter.) ns couldn"t have said it far better myself.
That is the strength of our distinctions to make us smarter and an ext creative. And that is how all those infusions of new cultures and also ideas, generation ~ generation, created the matchless alchemy of our melt pot and also helped us develop the strongest, many vibrant, most prosperous nation on the planet, right here. (Applause.)
But unfortunately, graduates, despite the lessons of our background and the reality of her experience right here at City College, some folks the end there now seem to have actually a very different perspective. They seem to watch our diversity as a danger to be contained rather 보다 as a source to it is in tapped. Castle tell united state to be fear of those who space different, to be suspicious of those with whom we disagree. Lock act as if name-calling is an agree substitute for thoughtful debate, together if anger and intolerance should be our default state fairly than the optimism and also openness the have always been the engine of ours progress.
But, graduates, I deserve to tell you, as first Lady, i have had the privilege the traveling around the world and also visiting dozens of various countries, and also I have actually seen what wake up when concepts like these take it hold. I have seen just how leaders who preeminence by intimidation –- leaders who demonize and dehumanize whole groups of civilization –- frequently do so because they have actually nothing else to offer. And I have actually seen exactly how places that stifle the voices and also dismiss the potential of their citizens space diminished; just how they are less vital, much less hopeful, much less free.
Graduates, that is not who we are. The is no what this country stands for. (Applause.) No, right here in America, us don"t permit our distinctions tear united state apart. No here. Due to the fact that we recognize that our greatness comes as soon as we evaluate each other"s strengths, as soon as we learn from each other, when we lean on each other. Due to the fact that in this country, it"s never ever been each human being for themselves. No, we"re all in this together. We constantly have been.
And below in America, us don"t provide in to our fears. Us don"t build up walls to keep civilization out because we know that our greatness has constantly depended on contribute from people who were born elsewhere however sought the end this country and made that their home -– from technologies like Google and eBay to creations like the fabricated heart, the telephone, even the blue jeans; come beloved patriotic songs prefer "God Bless America," like nationwide landmarks choose the Brooklyn bridge and, yes, the White house -– both that which were designed by architects that were immigrants. (Applause.)
Finally, graduates, our greatness has never, ever come native sitting back and feeling entitled to what we have. It"s never come indigenous folks who climb the ladder of success, or who occur to be born close to the top and then pull the ladder increase after themselves. No, our greatness has always come from people who intend nothing and take nothing because that granted -- folks who work tough for what they have then reach back and assist others after ~ them.
That is her story, graduates, and also that is the story of her families. (Applause.) and also it"s the story of my family, too. As countless of you know, I flourished up in a working class family in Chicago. And while no of my parents went past high school, let me tell you, they saved up every penny the my dad earned in ~ his city job because they were established to send me to college.
And also after mine father was diagnosed through Multiple Sclerosis and also he struggled to walk, relying top top crutches just to get himself the end of bed each morning, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work. See, that blue-collar job assisted to salary the small section of my college tuition the wasn"t spanned by loans or sponsor or mine work-study or mine summer jobs. And my dad to be so proud to pay the tuition invoice on time each month, even taking the end loans when he fell short. See, he never ever wanted me to miss out on a registration deadline due to the fact that his inspect was late. That"s my story.
And, graduates, girlfriend all have actually faced difficulties far greater than anything i or my family have ever before experienced, challenges that most college students could never even imagine. Few of you have been homeless. Some of you have risked the denial of your family members to go after your education. Numerous of you have lain awake in ~ night wondering just how on earth you to be going to assistance your parents and also your kids and still salary tuition. And many that you recognize what it"s prefer to live not just month come month or day to day, however meal come meal.
But, graduates, allow me phone call you, you must never, ever before be embarrassed by those struggles. You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it"s vital for you to recognize that your experience facing and also overcoming adversity is actually among your greatest advantages. And also I know that due to the fact that I"ve watched it myself, not just as a student functioning my method through school, yet years later when I became -- before I came to the White House and also I operated as a dean at a college.
In that role, ns encountered student who had actually every benefit –- their parents payment their full tuition, they lived in beautiful campus dorms. They had actually every material possession a university kid can want –- cars, computers, security money. But when few of them acquired their first bad grade, they just fell apart. They shed it, because they to be ill-equipped to manage their first encounter v disappointment or fallout’s short.
But, graduates, as you every know, life will put numerous obstacles in your route that are much worse than a poor grade. You"ll have unreasonable bosses and difficult clients and also patients. You"ll experience illnesses and losses, crises and setbacks that will certainly come out of nowhere and knock girlfriend off your feet. But unlike so countless other young people, friend have currently developed the resilience and also the maturity that you should pick you yourself up and dust yourself off and keep moving through the pain, keep moving forward. You have emerged that muscle. (Applause.)
And with the education and learning you"ve obtained at this well school, and the experiences you"ve had in her lives, allow me phone call you, nothing -– and I mean nothing -– is going to stop you indigenous fulfilling her dreams. And you deserve every last among the successes that I recognize you will have.
But I also want come be really clear that through those successes come a collection of responsibilities –- to share the lessons you"ve learned below at this school. The obligation to usage the methods you"ve had actually to aid others. That means raising her hand once you acquire a chair in the board meeting and also asking the question, well, whose voices aren"t gift heard here? What ideas are us missing? It means adding your voice to our nationwide conversation, speaking out for our many cherished values of liberty, opportunity, inclusion, and respect –- the worths that you"ve to be living below at this school.
It method reaching ago to assist young civilization who"ve been left out and also left behind, helping them prepare for college, helping them pay for college, making sure that great public universities favor this one have actually the funding and support the they need. (Applause.) due to the fact that we all recognize that public universities have constantly been among the greatest drivers of our prosperity, lifting countless people into the center class, creating jobs and wealth all throughout this nation.
Public education is our greatest pathway to opportunity in America. Therefore we have to invest in and also strengthen our public universities today, and also for generations come come. (Applause.) the is exactly how you will carry out your part to live as much as the oath that you all will certainly take here today –- the oath bring away by generations of graduates before you come make her city and also your human being "greater, better, and more beautiful."
More than anything else, graduates, that is the American story. It"s your story and the story of those who came prior to you in ~ this school. It"s the story that the child of polishing immigrants named Jonas Salk that toiled for years in a lab until he discovered a vaccine that saved plenty of lives. It"s the story the the son of immigrant -- Jamaican immigrants named Colin Powell who ended up being a 4 star general, Secretary the State, and also a role model for young people throughout the country.
And, graduates, it"s the story that ns witness every solitary day when I wake up up in a home that was developed by slaves, and also I watch my daughters –- two beautiful, black young ladies -– head turn off to college -- (applause) -- waving goodbye to their father, the chairman of the joined States, the son of a male from Kenya that came below to American -- come America for the same factors as plenty of of you: To obtain an education and also improve his prospects in life.
So, graduates, while i think it"s fair to say that our starting Fathers never could have imagined this day, every one of you are very much the fruits of their vision. Their tradition is an extremely much your legacy and your inheritance. And don"t allow anybody tell friend differently. You are the living, breath proof the the American Dream endures in our time. It"s you.
So I want you every to go out there. It is in great. Build great lives for yourselves. Gain the liberties that you have actually in this an excellent country. Go after your own version that happiness. And also please, please, always, constantly do your part to aid others perform the same.
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I love you all. Ns am therefore proud the you. (Applause.) thank you for enabling me come share this final beginning with you. I have actually so much confidence in who you will be. Simply keep functioning hard and keep the faith. I can"t wait to view what girlfriend all accomplish in the years ahead.