May 19, 2019

Good morning on this glorious day!

Welcome to the families and friends of the Class of 2019, who have traveled here today to join us in celebrating the newest graduates of Bucknell University.

And welcome to the University's faculty and staff. They've supported every step of your journey. And they are here today, filled with pride, to share in the the joy of your accomplishment.

We are also pleased to be joined by members of our Board of Trustees — who volunteer a great deal of time and energy to help steward our great University.

I also want to thank Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for serving as our distinguished keynote speaker. I understand, Madame Secretary, that given the demands on your schedule, you can only accept a small fraction of the speaking invitations you receive. In this case, however, the fact that our senior class officers, all women, identified you as the individual from whom they were most interested in hearing today moved you to join us.

Let's get it out of our systems right now: Congratulations, Class of 2019!

Today we confer upon you your diplomas, the universally recognized symbol of academic achievement that signifies four years of hard work and dedication. You've met the challenges of college and today emerge as graduates of Bucknell University, joining a community of 50,000 alumni worldwide.

Four years ago, you arrived on campus, most of you fresh out of high school. You didn't know what you didn't know. But you had the talent, the drive, the curiosity and most of all, the desire to discover your own path to the successful future you imagined for yourself.

You asked questions. You took chances. You got to know your professors, and they became your mentors.

You wrote and researched. You ran experiments and started companies. You painted and sang. You volunteered and gave back.

You pulled all-nighters, and sometimes you wondered if your professors secretly got together to schedule all of your big projects and tests on the same day. They did.

You learned about other cultures and explored new countries. You worked out and hung out. You networked and interviewed.

You pursued internships and discovered what you love — or, just as important, what you don't love.

You learned how to live with people you aren't related to. You formed enduring friendships.

These experiences weren't always easy, or even comfortable. But growth requires risk.

At your class convocation, back in August 2015, I challenged you to take many risks at Bucknell.

I dared you to invest in your own education — by fully tapping your potential during your precious time on this campus.

I dared you to confront intellectual challenges — by embracing hard work and not being afraid to risk failure.

I dared you to get your hands dirty — by seeking out hands-on experiences, and engaging in the kinds of difficult conversations that lead to real growth and understanding of one another.

I dared you to be part of something bigger than yourself — by being active, responsible and accountable in your community — from this campus to the communities where you'll live, work and travel throughout your life.

I dared you to be out there in it — to make the most of every moment here and take every opportunity we offer to turn your potential into something truly powerful.

Well, you took those dares, and you met those challenges. You have earned the diplomas waiting for you onstage.

But none of us succeeds alone. You had the support of your parents, family members and special friends — in emails and texts, in visits and FaceTime and late-night calls. Graduates, please rise, turn around, and thank them for their commitment and belief in your ability to achieve your dreams.

And now I ask that everyone who is able to please rise and join us in thanking the Bucknell faculty and staff, represented by my colleagues to the left and right. Every University employee cares so much about your welfare and success. I can't express adequately the pride we take in your special day.

I also want to thank two people who are very special to the University — Bob Malesardi, Class of 1945, and his wife Doris. Three years ago, Bob and Doris pledged $20 million to Bucknell, and later increased that to $30 million, which at the time was the largest gift in our University's history, solely to support financial aid — our top institutional priority. Through their matching-gift program, the Malesardi Match, the endowment they established continues to flourish and grow. Bob and Doris, thank you so much for being with us yet again.

It is now my honor to introduce our distinguished Commencement speaker, Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. secretary of state. She is the first woman to hold that office and among the highest-ranking women in the history of the United States government.

During her service as secretary, from 1997 to 2001, she reinforced U.S. alliances, advocated for democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade, business, labor and environmental standards abroad.

Ms. Albright's international leadership spans decades. From 1993 to 1997, she served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and was a member of the President's Cabinet. Previously, she served as the president of the Center for National Policy, was a member of President Jimmy Carter's National Security Council and White House staff, and served as chief legislative assistant to Senator Edmund Muskie.

In 2009, she was asked to chair a group of experts focusing on developing NATO's New Strategic Concept. And in 2012, in recognition of her extraordinary service to her country, she was awarded the nation's highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Today Ms. Albright is a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. She also chairs the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and serves as the president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. She is a member of the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Policy Board and the Board of the Aspen Institute. Additionally, she is a chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm; and Albright Capital Management, an investment advisory firm.

Ms. Albright is a best-selling author whose latest book, Fascism: A Warning, became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller last spring — the sixth of her books to earn that distinction. In popular media, she is well known for the variety of pins that adorn her outfits, which often convey diplomatic meaning.

Like our graduates, Ms. Albright is a student of the liberal arts. She earned her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and her master's and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. Her life of service exemplifies what one can achieve with the critical-thinking skills, creativity and intellectual curiosity cultivated through a broad education like Bucknell's.

We are so honored that she is with us today to address the Class of 2019.

A LAST WORD

(following the class response by Johnathan “Chief” Coleman ’19)

Graduates: You are Bucknellians for a lifetime, and you leave today carrying on a tradition of excellence.

As alumni, you can ensure by your continued involvement with Bucknell that those who come after you will have the same kind of positive and transformative experiences here that you have enjoyed.

Above all, please remember to be students forever.

I urge you to continue to be mindful of the world around you. Stay curious. Ask questions. Seek out those with different views, and have the courage to start the kind of conversations that lead to meaningful, positive and enduring change.

And to echo Johnathan, leave no stone unturned. Let your imagination become your new reality.

Go forward with confidence. You are Bucknellians — now and forevermore.

We congratulate you and wish you the very best.