[APPLAUSE] SPEAKER: Please rise and join the Cornell University Wind Ensemble, Glee Club, and Chorus in the singing of our national anthem.
[MUSIC - CORNELL CHOIR AND GLEE CLUB, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER"]
CHOIR: (SINGING) Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that are flag was still there. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
HARRIS NORD: Good afternoon, distinguished guests, families, friends, and members of the class of 2012. My name is Harris Nord, and it is an honor to welcome all of you to the 2012 convocation ceremony and the beginning of Cornell University's 144th commencement weekend. Congratulations!
Today, as I stand before you, are done with prelims, you are finished with labs, and you have completed your essays. It's even sunny outside. It's exactly what you've all been waiting for-- no snow and no homework.
Yet, unfortunately, it's still very bittersweet. It sad that tomorrow, after eight semesters together, we will be leaving our Cornell family, a family that has been here for us through all of our ups and through all of our downs, a family that was there to congratulate us after finishing projects, and one that picked up the pieces after we've had a bad day. I still remember moving into my North Campus dorm four short years ago. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshmen, and we entrusted Cornell to give us all the tools that we needed to succeed, tools like 22 libraries, great dining halls, and world-renowned faculty.
Over the course of our last four years on the hill, members of the class of 2012 have used these tools and won prestigious scholarships, wrote theses, won championships, and best of all, we've had a ton of fun. In fact, we've had so much fun that it's no wonder that Dino's, Johnny O's, and the Palms are all leaving Ithaca with us.
From our first Appel dinners to our last finals only a week ago, our class has made a lasting impact on Cornell. Not only did we help to work on new mental health initiatives, but we also had epic snowball fights on the arts quad and learned time and time again the importance of being there for one another. As we embark on the next chapter of our lives, and many of us moved to remote areas of the world like Murray Hill, Manhattan, we will never forget the great memories that we've had here at Cornell.
Being a senior really makes you nostalgic. It makes you step back and think about your goals, and it makes you look toward the future. While I don't have a crystal ball, I am confident that if we use what we've learned here far above Cayuga's waters, that our futures will be very bright. Thank you, everyone.
I would now like to introduce my friend and Senior Class President, Annabel Elizabeth [? Grossely ?] Fowler to deliver the senior class address.
ANNABEL FOWLER: Thank you, Harris. It is, indeed, a special honor to speak to all of you today as we salute our graduates of the class of 2012. Arriving to Cornell as freshmen, graduation day seemed light years away. I remember the times I spent counting down the days until graduation, and today it seems like we only just arrived on campus. The last few weeks especially have been filled with moments of elation and sadness. Our futures beckon us with such anticipation as we realize our college days are really coming to an end.
Four years ago, we arrived on North Campus as strangers. Now, we are leaving with lifelong friendships and experiences more profound than many of us imagined. Whilst some of those experiences are not always fun, they may be the best preparation to embrace any challenges ahead, and there are those everyday moments that will become cherished memories, late night walks back from Olin or Uris running to the Hot Truck for snacks, concerts in Barton, weekend nights in College Town, and even those seemingly endless winters.
There were those glory moments. How can we forget when our basketball team surprised everyone by reaching to the NCAA's sweet 16 or the day we found out Cornell and Technion would form a partnership to create the new tech campus in New York?
Those moments were sweet indeed. The past four years have been an amazing odyssey of challenges, achievements, surprises, life lessons, disappointments, triumphs, and growth. One thing is certain.
As I look to the future, our synergy as a class cannot be underestimated. We are over 3,000 strong, representing seven different schools with talent in so many disciplines. Our class is truly multifaceted in who we are and what we will accomplish. I have no doubt we will leave immense footprints around the world.
Whether or not we have our immediate futures figured out, it's OK because it's not where we start that counts. It's what we do with opportunities along the way and how we finish that truly matters. My great hope for the class of 2012 is that we never fear failure because if we live cautiously and take the easiest path, we risk not achieving our full potential.
As I look to all of you, I see so much potential. I see future teachers who will inspire young minds, or save a child who has nowhere else to turn for inspiration, maybe a future secretary of state, an architect or engineer who will take sustainability to another level, a farmer who improves corn yields to help feed the world's population. And for those of you who make so much money it loses any sense of reality, I hope you don't forget about those who need your support the most.
Class of 2012, if anything is clear today, the world needs each of us to make a contribution to make our planet a more humane and more just place for all its citizens, and we are prepared. We have been challenged to step outside of our comfort zones by some of the finest minds to find innovative solutions. We have been fortunate to attend a university that prides itself in diversity-- what a precious gift.
Few things in life are more valuable than the ability to empathize with individuals whose experiences we have not endured. My hope is that we can take that empathy to the next level and be especially understanding to those who have not had our opportunities. Indeed, we have received a privileged education, and we must never forget that with that privilege comes responsibility.
Yes, we have worked very hard to get here and graduate, but we must not forget the sacrifices and impact of supportive parents, friends, and dedicated faculty who gave us every opportunity to find success. My hope is that the class of 2012 embraces how we are part of a global community and that our great class will not accept what is wrong in the world as the new reality, that it would be OK for anyone to go to bed hungry, that it would be OK for any child to attend a failing school, that it would be OK for people not to have access to basic medical care, that it would be OK for anyone to be denied their basic human rights. It is not OK.
It is now our time, and how we seize these challenges in the years ahead will define us as a class, as a nation, and the type of world we leave to our children. While our meaning of what is a Cornelian may be different, we are part of the same family and tradition. We come from a variety of backgrounds and places and have been in court involved in Cornell in different ways, but each one of us should feel empowered that anything may be possible. We must never forget that small contributions as we go about our everyday lives add up to a big impact, and ordinary people acting in unison and with vision can accomplish extraordinary things and even change the status quo.
And there are those of you sitting before me whose contributions may be truly astonishing. Having had the honor of being your class president for the past four years, I have come to know many of you, and I know we have a strong voice. Class of 2012, let's make a promise to use our voice to plant and to nurture the seeds to make our world a more noble place for all its citizens.
My wish is that when we see each other at our 50th, we will have no regrets. Our futures will take us in different directions, and our accomplishments many, but no matter which direction we choose, the choices we make can light the path for the next generation. What an incredible opportunity for our great class. Dare to dream what can be, and stay inspired.
On behalf of the class of 2012, I would like to thank all the family members, friends, staff, and faculty who have been such a support to us throughout our time here. Above all, I hope you keep those individuals who have supported you close to your heart. I would also like to take a moment to wish the ROTC members of our great class, whose commissions become active today, a very safe journey. I want to--
And I would like to end with a quote from Conan O'Brien, "Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen." Thank you, Cornelians, and congratulations.
It is now my pleasure to introduce the co-presidents of the Senior Class Campaign, Olivia [? Alexandra ?] Moore, and John [? Johan ?] Rhee.
JOHN RHEE: Thank you, Annabel. Two years ago, I would have never imagined myself standing here representing the Senior Class Campaign. Let's be real, seniors. Cornell is difficult.
For me, sophomore year was where I had a mixture of academic, personal, and spiritual difficulties while trying to balance my extracurriculars. I'm sure this sounds familiar, as which Cornelian hasn't gone through such a trying period during his or her Cornell career? But here I am now, having spent this past year campaigning for our Alma mater that I have come to love so much.
So what were all those good memories that changed my perspective? It wasn't necessarily the nights at Rulloff's. Although, trust me, I enjoyed those. Rather, it was the late nights studying with a friend, or lunch with that former senior that served as my mentor, or coffee with that professor that has molded my career choices. It was the human connections that unite us as Cornelians, and that is what the Senior Class Campaign is about.
That friend was able to pursue her passions in global health, which is how we met due to alumni gifts. That former senior was able to come to Cornell on financial aid and mentor me due to alumni gifts. That professor was able to take me on as a research assistant, leading to that strong bond, due to alumni gifts.
The things that have meant the most to me, the people, have completely outweighed the bad, and I thank those selfless Cornelians who, through their decisions to contribute, have made my college experience. And so thank you, seniors. This year, we beat the class of 2011 with over 1,000 seniors having participated in the Senior Class Campaign and with 52 Ivy Society donors.
Thank you especially to AAP for having the highest participation percentage out of all of the colleges, and thank you to those who have participated in the campaign. Know that you are all making those same selfless contributions to Cornell. I am now pleased to introduce one of my closest friends and fellow co-presidents of the Senior Class Campaign, Olivia Moore, to talk about our future roles as alumni.
OLIVIA MOORE: Thank you, John. Classmates, it is an incredible honor to stand before you today, and I am truly grateful for the time we've spent together on The Hill. We will forever be connected by our Cornell experience, and I couldn't be prouder to be part of the class of 2012. After four years of long nights in the library and other nights of having a little too much fun, this day is currently here.
As John mentioned, we have so much to be proud of but, friends, we have so much to look forward to. Many of us will venture to our neighboring New York City to consult, while others begin their lives teaching in Kansas City, saving the environment in San Francisco, or doing research in Qatar. But no matter where we are in the world, Cornell will always connect us and this campus will always be home.
Some will return in just two weeks for our reunion zero, while others may not return to campus for years, but don't be a stranger. Keep Cornell close to your heart. Volunteer, keep in touch with the lifelong friends you've made here, and never forget the big red.
So as part of our Senior Class Campaign, we thought that we should begin our class's legacy now for the benefit of future Cornelians, so a few months ago, President Skorton made a very important announcement. He pledged to create a class of 2012 scholarship to honor our class and challenged us to rally our fellow seniors to build the fund. Today, I am pleased to announce that after all of our hard work, President Skorton has allocated $100,000 to endow a class of 2012 scholarship.
From now on, each year a deserving student will be presented with this scholarship to help fund their Cornell experience. We hope that this scholarship will inspire future classes to be just as dedicated and in love with this university as the class of 2012. So thank you President Skorton. For helping our class start our legacy. We can't wait to see what the future holds for Cornell, and we're excited to be a part of it.
And now, please join me in welcoming the Cornell University Chorus and Glee Club as they sing "Locus iste" by Anton Bruckner.
[MUSIC - CORNELL CHOIR AND GLEE CLUB, "LOCUS ISTE"]
HARRIS NORD: A national leader in research ethics, board certified cardiologist, musician, and advocate for the arts and humanities, the university's president aims to make Cornell a model combination of academic distinction and public service. Please join me in welcoming the 12th president of Cornell University, Dr. David J. Skorton.
DAVID SKORTON: Thank you very much, Harris, and welcome to the class of 2012. Family and friends of the graduates, give yourself a round of applause.
Congratulations to all of you who will be graduating tomorrow and for the legacy you have already left at Cornell in so many ways through your accomplishments, and your time here, and your generous support, as we just heard, of those who will follow in your footsteps. I want to thank, again, the student leaders on the stand, and hope that you'll join me in thanking them, on top of everything else they've done in these years, for leading the last lap of the race. Thank you so much.
The class of 2012 has chosen as its convocation speaker someone who embodies extraordinary accomplishment in business, and government, and philanthropy. As an entrepreneur, Michael Bloomberg transformed the financial services industry by using emerging technology to provide crucial information and analysis. As three-term mayor of the nation's largest city, he has overseen dramatic progress on key quality-of-life issues while strengthening the city's economy for the present and for the future. And as a philanthropist, he is not only a giver but a doer, a visionary at a time when that term is overused, often taking on a role of personal leadership as he seeks creative ways to address societal problems and to support the arts and culture.
Michael Bloomberg began his career at the entry level of the financial services industry. Born in Boston, he earned a bachelor's degree in engineering at Johns Hopkins and an MBA at Harvard. He went to work for Solomon Brothers, where in 1966 he earned $9,000 a year and spent a great deal of his time hand-counting bond and stock certificates.
He rose to the level of partner, but his job was eliminated after a merger in 1981. Characteristically, Mike Bloomberg turned that setback into an enormous opportunity. He founded a financial information firm, Bloomberg LP, which created computer terminals, providing information and analysis to professional investors. Wall Street found the new service indispensable, and the company grew exponentially. It later expanded into radio and television programming, and today Bloomberg LP has over 310,000 subscribers and 16,000 employees worldwide.
In the late 1990s, Mr. Bloomberg began to look for new challenges and set his sights on the office of mayor. In November 2001 in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, he was elected the 108th mayor of New York City, and he proceeded immediately to undertake an ambitious agenda that has dramatically improved the city's schools, and public health, and safety, and the environment, and the economy. Determined from day one to improve the city's struggling schools, he moved quickly to implement stricter standards and greater accountability throughout the school system. And since 2005, graduation rates have risen 40%. Yes--
He successfully pushed for a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars, as well as at parks and beaches.
Under his administration, crime has declined 35%, and life expectancy has actually increased 1.7 years.
At the state and national level, he pressed legislators to take action against illegal gun trafficking. He also encouraged enlightened immigration reform, supporting the Dream Act, which would create an alternative path to citizenship for deserving young people.
The mayor has also made New York City a greener place. He has added more than 700 acres of parkland and launched an initiative to plant one million new trees, and he brought city agencies together to create a comprehensive sustainability plan for the future, an enterprise dear to our hearts at Cornell. With initiatives to mitigate climate change, strengthen the economy, and enhance quality of life, PlaNYC has become a national model for sustainability planning. The mayor also chairs the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which works with major cities around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Mayor Bloomberg's leadership has especially been crucial in helping New York weather the unstable global economy of recent years. He guided the city through the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession with effective policies promoting recovery. And in fact, the city escaped the severe loss of jobs that many other cities experienced and experience.
The mayor's programs has spurred economic growth and job creation in old as well as new industries, including many that are key to the city's economy, such as the new media, and film, and television, and bioscience, and technology, and tourism. Part of Mayor Bloomberg's vision for New York is to further revitalize it by developing its potential as a center of innovation and technology commercialization. That vision led to last year's intense international competition among major research universities to develop proposals for an applied science and technology campus in the heart of the city. Cornell and our partner, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, having succeeded in that competition, are now working to make our plans a reality.
This is, from my perspective, a once in a lifetime opportunity for Cornell and for New York City, with potentially enormous benefits to both. We owe that opportunity to the transforming vision, courage, and discipline of Michael Bloomberg. Long before becoming mayor, Michael Bloomberg began to devote a significant portion of his wealth to directly benefiting the public.
Quietly and without fanfare, and in fact, often anonymously, he has helped countless people and countless organizations. He focuses his support personally, and through the Bloomberg Philanthropies, on five key areas in the US and abroad-- public health, environment, government innovation, the arts, and education, distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to these causes every year, and he is an advocate for the philanthropic community, encouraging others to use their wealth to create a better world. As an entrepreneur, and government leader, and philanthropist, Mayor Bloomberg is a man of energy and ideas, someone who sees beyond obstacles to the potential for dramatic progress.
If he concedes that politics is the art of the possible, he will at the same time single-handedly expand the definition of what is possible. The class of 2012, and indeed all of us, are fortunate to have with us today a leader who has accomplished so much by following his own compelling vision of what is possible. Please welcome Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Thank you. Good morning, faculty, families, students, friends, and especially Cornell's three NCAA championship wrestlers. I'd be afraid not to say hello to them. And President Skorton, thank you for that kind introduction.
I noticed that you mentioned some of the things I've tried to do in business, and in government, and in philanthropy. Thank goodness you did not mention my academic record, which those of you who know me understand. I was always-- and I take great pride in this-- I was always one of those people that made the top half of the class possible. And you did mention that I was at Solomon Brothers for 15 years. You were a little bit erroneous when you said my job was eliminated. The truth of the matter is, they eliminated the employee doing my job.
Anyways, in the last few years, I've come to know your president as a distinguished leader, and he has some great ideas up here that I am planning to steal. I am told that every year he moves into a freshman dorm during orientation week, and I've decided to do something similar with everyone who moves to New York City. So if any of you starting down there in the fall, I'll be over. Don't worry; I'll accept a couch to sleep on, but I do insist that you get breakfast from the carriage house delivered.
Perhaps, though, that's getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. Today is about you, the great class of 2012. The graduate of CALS, are you here? What about ILR?
And the arts and sciences?
I thought so. Well, to all of you, and to all of the grad students as well, congratulations on making this glorious day in Ithaca, and by glorious, I mean a day when there is not a blizzard. You have done a wonderful job, seriously, a remarkable job of overcoming obstacles on the ways to your diploma.
You overcame living in the low rises freshman year. You overcame living on North Campus and having an 8:40 class on the engineering quad. You overcame the closing of your favorite bar and having nowhere to go after midnight or, as you call it, Palms up.
You even overcame piles and piles of parking tickets from Cornell Transportation. I know you never paid any of them, but you overcame them anyways. And you survived it all, and here you are.
However, while this is a very special weekend for the graduates, before imparting some of my invaluable, indispensable words of wisdom, I'd like to say something about another important group here today. They are sitting out there this afternoon, beaming proudly and not even thinking about what it cost to get to this day or what happens if you can't get a job and have to move back home. And I'm obviously talking about your parents and relatives, so maybe you students want to give them a very big hand. They deserve it.
Now, I realize this is a convocation, not a commencement, which really is a relief because I thought I was going to have to address some serious, weighty issues in my speech and ask deep, probing, transcendental questions about life and the future. That's what commencement speakers do. But as the convocation speaker, I can ask the important questions that Cornell graduates really care about, such as, what the hell is happening with Green Cafe? It's just been sitting there.
Or what is the second line of the alma mater? It can't be far above Cayuga's waters, da da, da da. Well, like you, I didn't know the answers to these questions, so I did some research in getting ready for today.
I found out that your most famous alumnus is either Billy Nye the Science Guy or Andy from The Office TV show. I learned that Vinny from Jersey Shore and Justin Bieber were supposed to attend Cornell next year, but that turned out to be not true. I even read 161 things to do before you graduate in the Cornell Sun-- very interesting.
If you've done a lot of them, congratulations. Great job. If you've done all of them, please turn yourself into the Cornell police.
Now, to get in the spirit of things, I actually did a few of these things on the list myself. I hung out at ON the patio at CTB. Parents, that is College Town Bagels. I have read tons of emails from somebody named Denice Cassaro, written in 23 different bright colors, describing all the activities I could do. And I even went to Olin Library last night and got kicked out at 2:00 AM, and then I took the infamous walk of shame over to IRIS.
So I am feeling prepared for today as much as you graduates are, and I promise to keep the rest of my remarks brief. But in exchange, I do have a simple request to make of all of you. I ask that you not practice what you learned in psychology 101 from Dr. Maas, how to power nap, although I will say that sounds like my kind of class.
Now, in doing my homework for today, I couldn't help but note that this year we are marking the 150th anniversary of the Act of Congress that gave rise to Cornell, the Morrill Land-Grant Act. And the Act provided land to the states for the purpose of funding colleges that would-- founding colleges that would teach agriculture and engineering.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Act because he understood that government had a role to play in preparing generations of young Americans to participate in and lead the industrial economy. The innovations, inventions, and ideas produced by America's higher education system became our nation's unparalleled competitive advantage and compelled us-- catapulted us to the forefront of the industrial age. Generations of Americans benefited from this public investment in research and knowledge, and so has the rest of the world.
Lincoln signed the Land Grant Act on July 2, 1862. Just one day earlier, he had signed the Pacific Railroad Act, granting land and financing for the construction of railroad lines from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. And in decades to come, the railroads would provide the crucial supply lines that fed the Industrial Revolution our universities were helping to pioneer.
In fact, one could argue that over the span of 48 hours Lincoln did more to advance the American economic growth than any president before or since, and then think about just two months later. On September 22, when Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, I think there's no doubt that he did more to advance the cause of American freedom than any president before or since.
And with those three strokes of his pen, Abraham Lincoln put America on course to fulfilling its destiny, and he saved a union that was, as Lincoln said in the same year, the last best hope on earth-- not bad for a few months work. These days, we're happy if Congress adjourns for the summer without ruining America's credit rating.
Lincoln, and his vision, and his courage made your Cornell experience possible, so don't ever forget that. But even more than that, Lincoln gave all future generations a roadmap for building our nation ever stronger. Expand knowledge; expand infrastructure; expand freedom-- that is the legacy that Lincoln left us.
It's not a Republican legacy. It's not a Democratic legacy. It is an American legacy.
And the challenge before you as you go out into the world is not to preserve that legacy but to expand it. There is enormous work to be done in each area, and we know we can't sit back and wait for Washington to do it. We have to do it ourselves, and all of you really can make a difference.
To expand knowledge, we need great teachers in our public schools who can prepare the next generation for the global economy. We need talented researchers in our labs who can develop new ways of attacking disease, advancing agriculture, and understanding the universe. To expand our infrastructure, we need scientists who can pioneer new forms of clean energy and engineers who can build the power grids along with the bridges, and tunnels, and high speed trains that we need in order to remain the world's strongest economy.
We need to expand our freedom. We need soldiers who will fight to protect us from tyrants and terrorists abroad, and we need leaders here at home who will stand up for equal rights for all people, including, I believe, the right to love and marry whoever you wish.
Now, one year ago you witnessed history being made when the New York State Legislature passed, and Governor Cuomo signed, a bill that granted marriage equality to all New Yorkers, and I believe it is only a matter of time before that right is recognized not just in New York state but across the country. Every time our nation has confronted a question of freedom, from slavery to women's suffrage to civil rights, equality has triumphed over exclusion. It has never been quick. It has never been easy. But in every case, the federal government has eventually stepped in and guaranteed equal rights for all.
There is no doubt in my mind that you will see that happen with marriage equality in your lifetime. It may be an act of Congress, or a constitutional amendment, or a Supreme Court decision, but if you stand up for it, it will happen, and you will extend Lincoln's legacy of freedom, just as your parents and grandparents did before you. The expansion of freedom is not the only part of Lincoln's legacy you witnessed during your four years at Cornell.
Earlier this year, in what I believe will help do for New York City what the Land Grant Act did in 1862 for our country, Cornell joined with the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and New York City to build a world class, graduate level applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island.
Now, we don't usually give away prime real estate in the heart of our city. We believe that providing land for the development of a world class university campus, however, will help us pioneer the economy of tomorrow. And given Cornell's history as a land grant school, it is only fitting that you won the competition.
And I want you to know the extremely strong support that Cornell had from its students and alumni was a significant factor in this vision. So thank you all. You really did make it happen.
Our hope is that this new partnership will position New York City to be the global leader in the information age, just as we were for the industrial age. It's one of the most exciting projects ever to take shape in our city's history, and I would say it's the biggest thing to happen to Cornell in decades, but I know two years ago the men's basketball team went to the Sweet 16 and sort of rivals it. Who knows which you'll remember the most.
The new partnership we have with Cornell and the Technion Institute won't change a thing about the undergraduate experience here in Ithaca. Don't worry; we're not going to hire away Happy Dave to swipe cards at the new dining hall, but there is no doubt that the Roosevelt Island campus will open up new doors to graduate students, faculty, and alumni. In fact, just last Monday, President Skorton and I announced that as Cornell begins the process of building its facilities, its temporary campus will be inside Google's Manhattan office building.
Talk about a match made in heaven. It gives Cornell a pipeline into one of the world's most innovative companies, and it gives Google a pipeline into some of the world's most brilliant minds. And I can tell you that Larry Page at Google is just as excited about it as President Skorton is, and I think it's another sign that New York City has a great future as a tech capital.
So all of you engineers, computer scientists, and techies who are thinking about heading west to Silicon Valley, if you really want to experience life, if you want to meet the most diverse, interesting people in the world, if you want to have a chance to come to a place where you could have an on-the-ground floor at Google-- and yes, if you want to find a date whose name is not Siri, come to New York City.
Google and a lot of other tech companies are helping New York City's economy grow faster than the nation's, so if you haven't found a job yet, you'd be better off coming to the city than sitting on your parent's couch, and I promised your parents I would say that. But don't worry if you don't have a job yet or don't know what you want to do with your career because whatever plan you have is probably going to change 100 times before you hit 30 years old. If my plan in college had worked out, I would have had a career as an electrical engineer. Instead, I went to business school in hopes of becoming the manager of a factory.
Instead, after business school, I took an entry-level job on Wall Street, where I thought I might spend my entire career. Instead, after 15 years I got fired, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. If I hadn't been fired, I wouldn't have started an information company and certainly never would have run for office of mayor. Yet, I can't imagine my life without those experiences, and it's fine to make plans. The only thing I can urge you is, be ready to change them at a moment's notice.
Now, even though I am not a commencement speaker, I thought I'd offer a few more words of advice before I go. Ordinarily, I tell graduates about a few of the key lessons I have learned in my life-- hard work, take risks, dream big, give back-- and I really do hope that you do all of those things.
But today I want to leave you with the words of a Brooklyn native who came to Cornell, educated a generation of students, and helped reshape our understanding of the world, the great astrophysicist Carl Sagan. Professor Sagan said, somewhere, something incredible is waiting to happen. He may have been talking about the origins of the universe, but he could well have been talking about our everyday lives.
And as you leave these ivy covered walls, a new world really does await you, a world where everyday something incredible is waiting to be known. Go out and find it. Search for new knowledge and new insights. Search out new experiences and new cultures. Travel wherever you can.
Read wherever you go. Think for yourself always. Do not rely on others to discover things.
Ask questions. Be skeptical. Stand up for your beliefs, especially when they are not popular.
Do not fall prey to partisanship. Remember that no political party has a monopoly on truth, nor is God on any one party's side. Remember that most people who have changed the world have first been ridiculed or dismissed.
And remember that this great university and our great country was not built by timid minds but by grand hopes and bold action. And if you do all of those things, I have no doubt that you will discover a world full of possibilities and shape it for the better. Now, before I leave you, I want you to do me one small favor.
Tonight at midnight, I want you to raise your glasses to the memory of Palms o'clock and to the future that is yours to discover. Congratulations, good luck, and if you're moving to New York City, remember, I get the couch. Go big red!
HARRIS NORD: Thank you Mayor Bloomberg for your sharing your inspiring words and advice with us today. It was a true privilege to hear your insights, and we thank you for honoring us with your presence during this very meaningful day in our lives. It is an honor at this time to present you with the 2012 convocation medallion for your exemplary character, leadership, and service.
Mayor Bloomberg, your contributions to the technology world, as well as your generosity to the greater humanity, is very admirable. Thank you once again.
I would now like to take this opportunity to thank certain individuals who have made today's event possible. First many, many thanks to the Convocation Committee for their support and dedication throughout the planning of this event. Please stand and be recognized.
You are all awesome.
Secondly, a huge thank you to President Skorton, Susan Murphy, Tommy Bruce, Bob Katz, and Joe Scaffido for their constant support and time in ensuring a memorable weekend for us all. And lastly--
I want to thank Jennifer Davis, my advisor, for the countless hours that she has spent with me working toward this year's convocation. So on behalf of the Dean of Students Office, I would like to congratulate each and every one of you , and the best of luck on all of your future endeavors. Enjoy this weekend, celebrate your successes, and I'll see you all tomorrow.
I would now like to start the Alma Mater.
[MUSIC - CORNELL CHORUS AND GLEE CLUB, "FAR ABOVE CAYUGA'S WATERS"]
CHOIR: Far above Cayuga's water with its waves of blue stands our noble alma mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus. Speed it onward.
Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our alma mater. Hail, all hail Cornell.
Far above the busy humming of the bustling town, reared against the arch of heaven, looks she proudly down.
Lift the chorus. Speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our alma mater. Hail, all hail Cornell.
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Senior class president Annabel Fowler and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg address graduating students and guests at Schoellkopf Stadium, May 26, 2012.
Congratulations, Class of 2012!