Home/News/ Read Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's 2012 Commencement Speech
Call 800-950-1992 for information
Read Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's 2012 Commencement Speech
May 22, 2012
Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown
May 12, 2012
Congratulations Class of 2012! You did it.
Your Capitol College education and experience have prepared you well for the future.From competing in the Cyberwatch Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition; to involvement with numerous community service projects in the local community, including visiting Ronald McDonald houses; to receiving the first doctorate from Capitol College’s Information Assurance doctoral program—you’ve accomplished a great deal.
What you’ve done, in the years leading to today’s ceremony, took hard work, self-discipline and sacrifice. So today is an important day for you to celebrate your accomplishments with your friends and families who, I’m certain, are as proud of you as you are of yourself—and deserve as much credit as you do.
You’ll look back on pictures of this day, years from now, and see younger faces smiling back, dressed in your caps and gowns. But always remember that today is only the beginning, one picture in a scrapbook or a desktop folder that is ready to be filled with more memories and grander accomplishments.
President Wood; Chairman Battista; members of the board; faculty, staff, alumni, distinguished guests; family and friends; and the Class of 2012—thank you for the honor of sharing this special day with you. On behalf of Governor O’Malley, his family and mine, let me say: Congratulations for a job well done!
I am honored by the invitation to speak at today’s commencement ceremony. Long before my first visit to campus in April 2010, when I presented a check for $93,000 on behalf of the State of Maryland to establish the Cyber Battle Lab, I knew of Capitol’s reputation for excellence, particularly in your specialized programs in engineering, computer science, information technology, and business. I knew of the important role that Capitol has played in providing education and training that are particularly critical for our State and our nation at this time.
As we strive to create jobs in Maryland that build on our strengths in cyber, information assurance, and computer science, I am confident that the training and expertise with which Capitol students graduate, will allow each of you to make unique contributions in these fields. Innovation in science and leadership in business are vital drivers in Maryland’s economy and Capitol graduates, you will bring great potential to these areas.
The Significance of Today
Today represents a great achievement, but you’re actually just getting started. Your graduation is the beginning of a journey that will shape who you are and what you will do with your life. Whether you’re graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Astronautical Engineering, Information Assurance, Business Administration, Computer Science; or whether your degree today is your first, second or third. Now is the time to figure out what motivates you, to define or redefine your life’s goals, and to determine the contributions and the difference that you will make to this world.
Since you began your studies here at Capitol College, many significant and historic events have occurred in our country and around the world. We witnessed humanity at its most generous, as the world responded to an earthquake that devastated the island country of Haiti. We welcomed the Arab Spring, in the Middle East and North Africa, led by college students and other activists, using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to protest repression and censorship. We made history as Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected President of the United States. And we endured the Great Recession—the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression—and while technically over, it will continue to challenge many of you as you enter into the work force.
The world has changed and will continue to change in ways that you might not even imagine.
I remember when I was sitting where you’re sitting. It was 1984. Ronald Reagan was President and our country was at the height of the Cold War with the former Soviet Union. I was days away from deploying with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division to West Germany (the Berlin Wall had not yet fallen), serving with some of the most patriotic Americans whom I’d ever met, from all four corners of this country. I listened to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Elton John, and Madonna on 33-rpm, 12-inch vinyl records. Anyone remember vinyl records?
During my freshman year, the Space Shuttle Columbia flew the very first shuttle mission. By my senior year, the Orioles, with “Iron Man” Cal Ripken, were the reigning champions of Major League Baseball. And Washington didn’t even have a big-league team.
And here we are in 2012. A piece of the Berlin Wall is now in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. I still listen to Stevie and Michael and Elton and Madonna, but now on my iPad—but my son and daughter have to upload the songs for me. The Space Shuttle program flew its final mission last year after 30 years and 135 missions, two of which ended tragically. And some say Washington still doesn’t have a big-league team, but this year we’ll prove them wrong. Much has happened and changed since I sat where you’re sitting today.
But even then, just as you are today, we were about to and knew we were ready to make a difference in the world. And we asked ourselves, how?
Greatness Through Service
It was Dr. King who said: “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve…You don’t have to have a college degree to serve; you don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace … a soul generated by love.” Most if not all of you are driven by the desire to make a difference. And not just any difference, but a big difference. My hope for you is that you will be inspired by Dr. King’s words and seek to achieve greatness and make a difference through service.
I grew up in a home where the lesson of service was taught each and every day. My father taught his children that you need to serve others before you get around to serving yourself. He was raised by his grandmother in a poor neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica. He witnessed disease and sickness as a child—and much of it was never treated. When my father graduated high school, all he wanted was to become a doctor. He wanted to heal the sick.
My grandmother wasn’t a wealthy person, but she was a hard working woman who understood the value of an education. She spent most of her adult life working in the homes of wealthy people—cleaning their toilets, preparing meals for their families, and raising their children.
Yet, my grandmother scraped together enough money to send my father to college, and he was the first in our family to do so. He attended medical school and for most of his working life, he treated patients in the poorest communities. Every morning he would eagerly head off to the office or the hospital anticipating another day in which he would make a difference in the lives of his patients. Every evening he would come home and I could see the personal satisfaction he had in knowing that he helped others who were less fortunate than he. He loved his patients.
My father spent years seeing patients—evenings and weekends, house calls and hospital rounds—because all he wanted to do was to heal the sick and to serve those in need. He treated more than his share of patients who could not afford or were unable to pay for his services. And he proved that not all doctors are rich. But what my father didn’t earn in money was more than made up for in the difference he made in the lives of his patients. For my father service is what life is all about.
I followed my father’s footsteps, not in becoming a doctor, but nonetheless by choosing to serve. I chose to serve my country in uniform and later to serve Maryland as a public servant. Because I tried to follow my father’s example.
Each of you must find your own way to answer the call to serve.
Today, Capitol College will confer upon you a degree, but it’s up to you to reach into your heart for grace and to search your soul for love—to serve your neighbors and those around you. History will look back on your generation, and ask: What difference did you make in this world, how did you serve your neighbor, your community?
And while you may be determined to make a big, meaningful difference in this world, and you will, remember the words of Dr. Marian Wright Edelman: “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
Meaningful service can be the small daily differences that we make in people’s lives. Joining the prison ministry where you worship and teaching an inmate to read once a week. Volunteering once a month at the women’s shelter to mentor or counsel a young woman on how to interview and dress for a job. Giving blood at the local blood bank every 56 days so that you might save a person whose life depends upon that gift of life.
Remember that acts of service to others are not at odds with your personal and professional ambitions and pursuits. But in those pursuits, don’t allow who you are to be lost to what you do. Never let the title “engineer,” “specialist,” “professor,” “doctor” erase the title “mother,” “father,” “brother,” “sister,” “neighbor,” “friend.”
The Values We Share
As you make your mark in our world, and you will, remember the values that we share. For it is these values that will help shape your service and your personal and professional pursuits.
We value hard work, and therefore we should expect each of us to champion a strong work ethic. And although the link between work and reward is not always obvious, and is never guaranteed, it is no less true that our world rewards hard work, and smart work. It’s a fundamental character of our American culture.
We value individuality. And therefore we should expect each of us to cherish and respect the dignity of every individual within our society. Just as a digital photo develops as millions of individual pixels come together into focus, forming a clear picture, our world is clearer when we embrace each individual as an essential part of the larger picture.
We value diversity. And therefore we should expect each of us to promote and celebrate all its forms. Today we’re calling upon you, as the inheritors of the world that we’ve readied for you, albeit not to perfection, to turn your values, our values, into actions, and actions into service. Service that will benefit and improve—if only a little—the world in which we live.
So when you leave here today and tomorrow arrives, I challenge you to ask yourself, how will I choose to serve? How will I make a difference?
Will I work for our government to help defend against cyber-attacks and intrusions on our infrastructure and way of life? We need the best and the brightest to protect our society and our world.
Will I teach in an underperforming school to educate and develop the creative potential of some of our most at-risk children? We need the best and the brightest in our classrooms.
Will I establish a small business in the heart of my community and sponsor the little league soccer team?
Will I fly to Alabama or Mississippi and help clean up towns devastated by tornados and flooding? Will I join the Peace Corps? Will I join the Armed Forces? Will I set anexample of service for my children and those that come after me?
And as you depart this place, remember this great College’s motto—Aut viam inveniam aut faciam—I will either find a way or make a way. And as you do, do so for yourself, and your family, and for the benefit of your neighbor. Today is truly just the beginning.
Final Thoughts and Advice
I’d be remiss to leave this podium without offering a few pieces of personal advice.
My first: Don’t be afraid to fail. The writer Samuel Beckett said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." You will never learn to succeed or truly appreciate success unless you’ve ever failed. More than that, you will never learn what you are capable of unless you’ve ever failed. Bill Gates failed to graduate from college, but succeeded as a founder of Microsoft. J.K. Rowling, with a child but without a job, failed to get her original manuscripts published by twelve publishing houses, but succeeded with the 13th—and so began the life and adventures of the wizard we know as Harry Potter.
My second piece of advice: Life is short—live well. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and for your family and friends. Continue to play—in the park, on the court, or on the stage. Stop to smell the roses. Plant a few if you can. Give a few if you know what’s good for you.
Travel and explore your world. You never know what you can find and appreciate at home because of what you discovered away from home. Remember the poem written by Robert Frost—think about the road not taken—and take it.
Good luck Class of 2012. Live well, serve and be great!
11301 Springfield Road
Laurel, Maryland 20708