“We need you to be the drivers of change, and from everything we’ve seen, you will be,” University of Maryland School of Public Policy Dean Robert C. Orr told the graduates at the Spring 2018 Commencement Exercises on Monday, May 21. This year’s commencement was unique because it included the first graduating class of undergraduate students from the School’s new Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy program.
“Professors learn from their students, we are also inspired by you,” Orr added. “You’ve inspired me to believe in the future. This is a celebration of service.”
As in years past, the graduating class voted to have one of their fellow SPP graduates to speak at commencement. This year’s graduates voted to have Theodore Caruthers as the graduate student speaker, and Omari Lemmie as the undergraduate student speaker.
During his speech, Caruthers shared his gratitude for being able to complete the program with his fellow graduates. “I have no doubt in my mind that we will all change the world,” he said. “We all enrolled in this program because we wanted to respond to public problems.”
“I’m here to remind you all that your greatest contribution to society has yet to manifest itself,” he said. “Our greatest contribution as policymakers will be that when others heard ‘no,’ we heard ‘find another way.’”
Lemmie started his speech by describing what makes the public policy undergraduate major different from similar majors on campus. “What separates policy from other majors is its connection to them,” he said. He went on to say that public policy intersects and touches a variety of other disciplines across majors at UMD, and that’s what makes it special.
When mentioning his fellow graduates, Lemmie said, “Each of us knows there is no ‘they,’ there is only ‘us.’ This program gave us a place to get together and talk about issues. It might sound cliche, but it’s love that got us through.”
Students who received prestigious fellowships or were inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha were also recognized during the ceremony. It was also announced that the School had two Presidential Management Fellows this year.
This year’s commencement address was delivered by TIAA President and CEO Roger W. Ferguson Jr. Dean Orr introduced Ferguson and said, “He is the ultimate renaissance man. He is what we want our graduates to be. He has not only done well, but he has done good.”
During the address, Ferguson encouraged graduates to “be satisfied, but not self-satisfied.” He went on to define satisfied as being proud of yourself, but being self-satisfied as being full of yourself.
“Self-satisfaction will make you complacent, and complacency is never a good thing,” he said. Ferguson also told graduates that “success is never final, but failure is never fatal. A good life is not defined by your success alone.”
In his closing remarks, Ferguson quoted Winston Churchill by saying, “we make a life by what we give.”
You can watch the entire Commencement ceremony on the SPP YouTube channel and you can view photos from Commencement on the SPP Flickr account.
Individual commencement photos will be emailed directly to the graduates from GradImages.