Adrienne A. Jones at Commencement 2008
|May 23, 2008 ||
Adrienne A. Jones, member, Maryland House of Delegates
Adrienne A. Jones - Commencement Address
To President Ungar, the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, my fellow honorees, parents, grandparents, guests, and, most importantly, Goucher’s Class of 2008, good morning!
Thank you for allowing me to be part of your commencement ceremony, and I am truly grateful to have received this honorary degree.
On this very day, 32 years ago, May 23, 1976, I graduated from UMBC with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. Reflecting back on that time, I could not tell you who the keynote speaker was or anything else about the ceremony on that day. I suspect for your graduation, at least one member of this graduating class will remember who the keynote speaker was 30 years from now, and a few of you will remember that a guy in your college graduating class’s dad was the speaker.
With that in mind, and although I am not your keynote speaker, I did ask President Ungar what he would like for me to talk about. He said, “You know our campus. Talk about it and then give some advice to the graduates, and by the way, do it within five minutes.”
In my capacity as a state legislator and chair of the House Capital Budget Subcommittee, I get to know both the public and private institutions of higher learning very well. You have quite a gem here at Goucher. Your campus is one that Towson and Baltimore County government, in particular, utilizes through the attendance and hosting of conferences, lecture series, cultural events, forums, and the like. You certainly are a regional campus.
In terms of Goucher’s future, I had the opportunity to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony on April 27, 2007 for your Athenaeum – a term, I must admit, I was not familiar with as it relates to our higher education facilities in Maryland. But knowing Athena is the Greek god of wisdom and that this facility will feature a state-of-the-arts library and serve as a focal point for performances, public discussion, and student activities, and is environmentally oriented, the name was perfect.
You are fortunate to be part of a campus that thinks globally, with your study-abroad program. Goucher has certainly taken liberal arts and science education to another level.
Although as stated previously I could not remember who my keynote speaker was, the quality of education I received was more important, just as what you have received from your time here at Goucher.
Now some of you will be going immediately into the workforce; some will take some time off to reflect; some will be going to grad school, and some will hold off going to grad school until a later time. My advice to you is this: If you are planning to go to grad school, do it within five years, preferably within two years. If not, the time will get away from you, and you may not do it at all. Take it from experience. There was a lapse of only five months from when I graduated from UMBC and when I went into the workforce with Baltimore County government, and I have been there for the past 32 years. However, no matter what you decide to do after graduation, please consider some sort of public service.
Now the kind of public service I am talking about and I hope some of you, as graduates of Goucher, will seriously consider, is elected office. Now I am not saying become a politician. I am asking you to become an elected official; there is a difference between the two. If you don’t know what that difference is, perhaps this is not your calling.
Now being a Maryland legislator is a part-time job, and of the 188 legislators –141 in the House and 47 in the Senate – there are only three members who are under the age of 30 and 60 members over the age of 60. In terms of their backgrounds and occupations, 42 members count being a legislator as their only job. Thirty-four are in business, and 34 are in law, which means 110 of the 188 members are in one of those three categories. Can you see why we need some diversity in the backgrounds of our future members, such as graduates of Goucher with the emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, global awareness, and hands-on experience?
We need some environmentalist, artists, and, after the last couple of sessions, those who have majored in peace studies.
I wish you much success, and to quote writer Napoleon Hill, “to become successful, you must be a person of action. Merely to “know” is not sufficient. It is necessary both to “know and do.” Now you got your “know.” You are graduating today from Goucher. I hope your “do” will be to go into public service as an elected official.
Thank you and best of luck in all your future endeavors!
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