Earlier this month, I had the privilege of presiding over Commonwealth University’s commencement ceremonies. Over two days, three campuses, and four ceremonies 1,775 graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and begin the next stage of their lives. I am so incredibly proud of the commitment, perseverance, and heart they have shown in earning their degrees. During my remarks to the class of 2023, I shared a favorite quote by Nelson Mandela. He said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to the change the world.”
Our Commonwealth University graduates have the power to do
just that. They are a class of world changers and difference makers, willing to
work hard, sacrifice, and give back to others. They have overcome much in their
journey to a degree. The pandemic marked their academic experience and tested
their resolve and resilience. But they did not give up. Surrounded by a caring
community of friends, family, professors, and staff, they found the strength to
keep going and achieve more than they may have thought possible.
In his address to the Lock Haven graduates, 2023 graduate
and student trustee Justin White shared, “Here we are, ready to take on the
world, to pursue our dreams, and to make a difference. We may have different
paths ahead of us, but we share one thing in common: the determination to
succeed.” Justin’s sentiments captured the spirit of this year’s class of
Huskies, Mounties, and Bald Eagles; they are a group of ambitious and
determined, strong and selfless, caring and creative individuals who are poised
to make a difference in everything they do.
My message for the graduating class of 2023, whether you are graduating from high school, college, or have earned an advanced degree is to focus first on the strength of your character and success will follow. As I shared with our Commonwealth U graduates, character is something that you develop over time. Character is built through your experiences, your relationships, and your choices. As you go through life, make choices that will strengthen your character. Choose to be honest, even when it is hard. Choose to be kind, even when it is not reciprocated. Choose to be responsible, even when it is inconvenient. Make choices and stand up for what you believe in, even in the face of adversity. Your unique character is what will guide you through life’s journey. It will set you apart and make you successful in all aspects of your lives. Embrace the choices you make today, for they shape the person you become tomorrow.
Class of 2023, the world needs you and your potential to be
extraordinary. I am proud of you. I believe in you. I can’t wait to see all the
good you will do for the world. Congratulations!
Bashar W. Hanna, President