Thank you, President Washington, for the invitation to speak today and for the honorary degree. This school is special to me for several reasons – many of my own students at NOVA transfer here. But another reason is the leadership George Mason showed when we launched Joining Forces so many years ago. This college was one of the first to join “Operation Educate the Educators” to better equip teachers helping military-connected students…And you remain committed to serving our military community and their families.
So, I’m excited to be able to address the Class of 2021.
Though there is no crowd of friends and family to see you cross a stage today – sitting beside you or watching from far away, there are so many people cheering you on.
It might be your mom or dad – or that person who feels like a mom or dad – your siblings, your teachers, your friends. They’re feeling excitement. Relief. But most of all, pride. Chest-swelling, cheek-aching pride.
Now, I know that commencement speeches are usually life lessons from the speaker.
But instead, I want to talk about you today.
I want you to look back on everything you’ve accomplished here at GMU – especially in this last year.
For some, that will be harder than for others. But I want you to think about the moments that made you just laugh out loud…When you felt deeply grateful for the people in your life…
Picture the times when the beauty of the world stopped you in your tracks…An act of kindness that caught you off guard…
Or a morning when the leaves glowed greener than you thought that they could, and the sun shone just right, and you knew that things would be OK.
You see, trials like the last year can teach us a lot about ourselves. They can show us what matters most and strip away those things that only seemed important.
We see that joy can be found, even in the worst of times.
We see the strength that has always been in us.
And we realize our limitations as well.