Good morning General Nicholson, Chairman Smith, President Lenczowski, Dean Marlo, Dr. Bradley, trustees, graduates, faculty, students, alumni, family, and friends. Thank you for joining us today as we celebrate the commencement of The Institute of World Politics Class of 2019. I am honored to have the opportunity to represent the graduating class and speak to you for a few minutes, and I hope that my words will have some value for every one of you.
First of all, congratulations to the Class of 2019! We did it! I don’t quite know how, but we did it. We have made it through all of the challenges that stood before us when we first walked through the doors of Marlatt Mansion, and we have emerged all the stronger for it. We could not have done this without the ardent support of our loved ones, professors, mentors, and friends. I would personally like to thank my parents for providing the opportunities that got me to where I am today; my fiancée, Gabriela, for her endless encouragement and continual support; and all of the faculty, staff, and students at IWP, who have broadened my own perspectives and made my experience at IWP one that I will cherish for many years to come. But I would also like to thank those who stood behind each of the graduates sitting here today. Thank you for giving your all to shape the future of not just this class, but also our nation.
When I first heard about IWP, I was excited about the prospect of attending a small national security school amidst the kaleidoscope of American government. At that time, I was wrestling with the decision to attend IWP or accept an offer of a Fulbright scholarship to study in Germany. For any of you who know me, Germany is what I’m all about, so it was a difficult choice. However, I was hooked by the prospect of a Master’s education that would immerse me in the ongoing American experiment, with all the excitement and frustration that accompanies it. For so long, I had been behind the pages of a textbook, but IWP gave us the opportunity to learn from those who have pulled the levers of American foreign policy, briefed Presidents making the tough decisions, and ensured that the republic not only survives, but thrives.
Through this, I have realized that nothing can really prepare you for government work except understanding the people who devote their lives to furthering its mission each and every day. In hearing your stories and sharing your journey, I have come to understand what government “OF the people” truly means and how this is so critical for promoting a government that is genuinely “FOR the people.” In the Class of 2019, we are veterans and baristas, PeaceCorp volunteers and parents. We are the people! As we stand on the precipice of our careers, it may seem like a scary prospect, but venturing into the unknown is what the American people have always done. Together we exhibit the resourcefulness, the tenacity, and the willpower that define the American spirit. When I look at our class, these characteristics give me the sincerest hope that the future of this great nation is in capable hands.
But to take ownership of this unique American legacy, our public service must go beyond everyday civics. With the degrees we receive today, we have all acquired a firm grasp on statecraft and what it means to be an exceptional leader. Now the onus is on us to put these skills into action. This is what an IWP graduate does, and this is my challenge to you today. Through your current and future service in intelligence, diplomacy, non-profit work, the military, or wherever your passion may lead you, use what you have learned here to promote a more perfect union. IWP has handed us the key, but now it is our responsibility to open the door, cross the threshold, and extend the promise of the American dream to leave the world better than we found it.
I look forward to hearing about your successes in the coming years. Thank you.