In journalist Charlie Rose’s commencement address to the Georgetown College Class of 2015, he encouraged graduates to seize the opportunities available to them and live life fully.
Before his commencement address, Rose received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Journalism Program Director Professor Barbara Feinman Todd read the citation for the honorary degree, emphasizing Rose’s profound impact on the field of journalism.
“Today, Georgetown University delights to honor a citizen and journalist whose life and work both exemplify this institution’s commitment to a conversation that bows to the past and beckons to the future,” Todd said. “With pride and pleasure, Georgetown University confers upon Charlie Rose the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.”
Rose began his address by highlighting technological progress in society and the challenges this generation faces.
“The common denominator in all of this is the velocity of change,” Rose said. “It is a hugely interesting time to go out into the world. If the economy gives you a place to stand, and it should, you will make us all very proud with what you can do and find a place to deal with all of these complex issues.”
Rose drew from his experiences as a journalist to offer ten key pieces of advice to the graduating class.
“I’ll tell you this afternoon, with a lifetime of questions and listening to the stories of everyone, from the playing field to the battlefield, I come as someone who plays a role in the conversation of America,” Rose said. “Know who you are. Know your values, know your strengths and weaknesses and know what you love. Make that your passion. You define yourself. Accept no limitations on your dreams. Accept no limits because of race or gender or national origin. You are who you say you are, you define who you are.”
The speaker also called the graduates to take action in serving others and to recognize the value of hard work.
“Lose yourself in greater good,” Rose said. “Find places and ideas where you can lessen suffering and enhance knowledge. Make your life your story, and you are the actor, the director and the star. … Hard work matters. No one has ever come up to me at an interview and said, ‘The reason I am at this table is because I was smarter, or anything else.’ What they’ve achieved is because they’ve worked harder than everybody else, because they wanted it and cared more about it.”
Rose stressed the importance of maintaining relationships, noting the impact positivity and boldness can have.
“People will matter, as they have already,” Rose said. “They have shared your hopes and your disappointments, your successes and your failures. Keep them in your memory and your speed dial. Take a moment to smile and make someone’s day, I promise it’ll make your day. And be a little crazy at the same time. … The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that can change the world, and I know there are among you those people.”
Rose ended his speech with a direct address to the family members and friends of the graduating class.
“We owe you, we appreciate you and we love you for giving to this university an opportunity to give something special to your child, which was the capacity to learn,” Rose said. “As every graduate leaves here, certainly with memories, but also with a paper in your hand, with knowledge in your head and passion in your heart, you know that you have our confidence that you’ll write your own story, that you’ll make the world better, and that you will have fun.”
After the speech, the Class of 2015 received their diplomas from Dean of Georgetown College Chester Gillis, led by the three valedictorians of Georgetown College Aletha Smith (COL ’15), Elise Widerlite (COL ’15) and Paul Bucala (COL ’15).