Pawo Choyning Dorji '06 addresses graduates and guests at Lawrence University's 2024 Commencement June 9 on Main Hall Green.
Pawo Choyning Dorji '06 addresses graduates and guests at Lawrence University's 2024 Commencement June 9 on Main Hall Green. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Lawrence University's 2024 Commencement featured speeches from Commencement speaker Pawo Choyning Dorji '06, President Laurie A. Carter, and senior class speaker Monique Johnson '24. Saturday's Baccalaureate service featured an address from James Gandre '81. See full speeches below.

See coverage from Commencement, including a photo gallery

President Laurie A. Carter

President Laurie A. Carter speaks at the podium.
President Laurie A. Carter 

"Greetings to our 2024 graduates, family members, and friends who have gathered here to celebrate this extraordinary milestone. Welcome also to others from our Lawrence University community—the dedicated faculty and staff who have been instrumental in making this day a reality.

To our distinguished guests, Mr. Pawo Choyning Dorji, Class of 2006 and today’s Commencement speaker; Mr. James Gandre, Class of 1981 and the speaker at yesterday’s Baccalaureate service; and Mr. Cory Nettles, Class of 1992 and chair of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees, welcome and thank you.

There is no more fitting location for the Class of 2024 to be celebrated than here on Main Hall Green, a beautiful and beloved gathering space for generations of Lawrentians.

Graduates, today is for you and about you. We come together on this joyous occasion to celebrate the work, commitment, and resilience it has taken to arrive at this moment. We celebrate the friendships that have been built, the bonds that have been strengthened, the intellectual adventures that have commenced, and the dreams that have been ignited.

When you walk with your classmates through the arch and out into the world at the close of today’s Commencement, you will do so with the knowledge that you have accomplished something significant. In that sense, it is an ending, a completion of your undergraduate studies. In another sense, it marks a beginning. From here, a new journey begins. I urge you to go forth on that journey with a boundless imagination and the wisdom to know there is still much to learn.

You are now a member of the great alumni community of Lawrence University, more than 22,000 strong. They are your peers, your advocates, and your biggest cheerleaders.

As those alumni will tell you, the diploma itself does not guarantee anything other than opportunity—it will not on its own chase dreams or take chances or break barriers or lead or change communities. That is for you to determine.

Your Lawrence education has shown you the path to a lifetime of learning. Without question, you are now better equipped to adapt, to innovate, to think critically, and to thrive.

Members of this class have excelled throughout their undergraduate journeys and are positioned to do bold, creative, and impactful things. I have had the pleasure of working closely with many of you and I’ve watched you grow into insightful student leaders.

Kyle Gierman, an economics major and captain of the men’s hockey team, and Addison Littlefield, a music major in vocal performance, brought incredible wisdom to the inaugural cohort of the President’s Student Advisory Council. I so appreciate your commitment to excellence and to the future of our campus community.

Kianni McCain, majoring in anthropology, and Paula Castillo, majoring in ethnic studies, are both Posse scholarship recipients who have fully immersed themselves in the Lawrence experience. It was a pleasure to see you flex your networking skills with alumni on a trip to Washington, D.C., this past December. Both Kianni and Paula completed internships last summer at the Center for Urban Teaching in Milwaukee and have committed the next phase of their lives to teaching, an incredibly important profession.

Paola Saldana Galvan, an international studies major and president of Model UN, was awarded a prestigious fellowship with the United States foreign service.

Jonathan Bass, a double degree student majoring in music performance and French and francophone studies, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to pursue his graduate degree in music performance in Paris, besting thousands of applicants across the nation.

And our seniors on the men’s baseball team led the Vikings to a conference championship twice in the last three years.

These are just a few examples of the brilliance of this class. We cannot wait to see where each of your journeys will take you.

As graduates, lean into lessons from your fellow Lawrentians. Embrace this community of learners and leaders. Stay connected no matter how many miles or years separate you from this place and find solace and support in the liberal arts education you have so passionately pursued.

Life, of course, is not without pain and struggle. We, like others, have felt the world’s pain in heartbreaking ways since you arrived. It is real and it hurts. As Lawrentians, let us lean on each other for strength. Let the Lawrence family be a source of comfort and care wherever your journey takes you and through whatever challenges you face and victories you celebrate. Be a beacon for good in the communities you will now call home, finding and spreading joy while living a life informed by compassion, empathy, and grace.

Parents, guardians, families, and friends, we also celebrate you today. No one walks this journey alone. Your contributions and sacrifices have helped bring your graduate to this stage today. Your guidance and support going forward will be no less valuable. Graduates, please join me in thanking your family members for their support.

To the class of 2024, on behalf of the full faculty and staff of this university, I wish you the very best. Go be great. You are ready to do amazing things. To all of you, congratulations."

Pawo Choyning Dorji '06

Pawo Choyning Dorji '06 speaks at the podium.
Pawo Choyning Dorji '06

"President Carter, the Board of Trustees, Faculty, Staff, distinguished guests and of course… the Class of 2024.

To be recognized is always such an honor, but its significance is amplified when that recognition comes from a place that has your utmost respect and confidence, my alma mater that I have always considered like my own family. From the very people and institution that played one of the most pivotal roles in shaping me as an individual.  

Thank you so much for this honorary doctorate, thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to return to Appleton to meet old friends and old teachers and thank you for letting me be part of a graduating class. Wearing this gown, hat and receiving a degree is definitely something I thought I would never experience again! 

 As we say in Bhutanese, “Named Samed Kadrinche la” - Gratitude that goes Beyond the Sky and Earth, I offer that to all of you!

When President Carter called me earlier this year to share with me that the University was honoring me with this degree, and that I would be the commencement speaker for 2024. I could not help but reflect back on my own LU commencement. 

Eighteen years ago, just as you many of you here, I sat through my own commencement, right here on main hall green. I was an eager 23-year-old government graduate, filled with so much excitement to make a difference in the world, I had dreams of working for the UN, I hoped to follow in the footsteps of my father and become a diplomat serving my country, I thought I would go to law school. Well far from that, today I return to LU today having accomplished none of those! 

But, I do stand in front of you here today as a father, a husband, an explorer, a photographer, a storyteller, and as a filmmaker. You see, it takes a rather incredible journey to leave Lawrence as a government graduate and return 18 years later as an Oscar-nominated filmmaker. 

Right after I graduated from Lawrence in 2006, I embarked on a journey across the Himalayas to study Buddhism with Tibetan monks and nuns at Buddhist Monasteries, surviving on lentil soup and rice every day for over 3 years. I hiked deep into the mountains of the Khyber Pass in Northern Pakistan, where no foreigners travel. There I drank the spring waters of the mythical Hunza Valley, spring water that is believed to possess the power of longevity. The Hunza Valley is a fabled hidden village nestled in a sea of blooming apricot trees at over 13,000 feet above sea level, hidden away from the outside world by the towering Karakoram mountains. It is so beautiful that it was the inspiration for James Hilton’s Shangri-la in his 1933 novel The Lost Horizon.  

I travelled into Xinjiang, China. Where with the beautiful Uighur people, I crossed the endless sand dunes of the greatest deserts known to man, the Gobi and the Taklamakan. I sang songs with the noble Hazara tribes of Bamiyan, in Afghanistan, where they shared with me their hopes and dreams for a better future for their beautiful war-torn country, to only have the Talibans bomb their way into the village just a day after I left.

Through my travels I fell in love with the art of storytelling, and to bring the stories to life I taught myself photography and pushed myself into filmmaking, as I saw it as the most powerful medium of storytelling. 

When I decided to start making films, I was told that the fundamental rule of filmmaking was to “never make films with animals or children”. My first film’s main cast ended up being a 900-pound yak in a classroom and five children! If being first-time actors was a novelty, the children I worked with had never seen a light bulb in their lives before, let alone watched a movie.

I made my first film, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, with a shoestring budget in one of the most remote human settlements in the world called Lunana, population 45, a glacial village at over 15,000 feet above sea level. So remote that it took 14 days of trekking to get to the village from the nearest roadhead. The village was so remote that we dint even have electricity, so the entire film was made on solar batteries. 

 After the film was made, I was so eager to share the film with the world, but for the next six months I was rejected by every possible film festival in the world. The film did not secure any distribution in any market, and I even wondered if filmmaking was the right career for me.

Slowly, a few distributors took a chance on this small solar powered film with a big heart from the Himalayas. We would eventually get theatrically released in 53 countries in 27 languages, we would go on to garner 10 nominations and win 25 international film awards. The film would go on to break records in countries like Japan and Brazil where it continuously screened in commercial theatres for more than a year. It became one of the most loved films in Israel, where the Jewish audiences would try to sing the movie’s yak folk song. When it screened at festivals like the Cairo Film Festival, Muslim College students came to me trying to sing the same folk song. 

This showed me how art can unite us, and how if we are willing to accept, our similarities far outweigh our differences as human beings. 

In January of 2022, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom would earn an Oscar nomination for the 94th Academy Awards, taking me from remote Lunana, all the way to the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. 

 As I prepared to return to Appleton, a return which marks a full circle for me on this journey. I couldn’t help but reflect back on all these amazing experiences. Experiences which all started because of my own Lawrence experience.

 As the commencement speaker for this year’s class, I would like to offer the graduating class of 2024, three humble aspirations. Three aspirations from lessons I have learnt from my journey so far. 

I have realized that failure and rejection are fundamental aspects of life. There cannot be success and acceptance without failure and rejection, and vice versa. They are two sides of the same coin. Yet quite often throughout life we are only taught how to succeed and never how to accept failure, to learn and grow from failure and rejection. 

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom’s initial failure, and its eventual commercial and critical acclaim has made me realize failure is needed in life. It is needed because it keeps us grounded, and it is this experience of failure that makes us appreciate the experience of success even more. 

 To the Class of 2024, you will no doubt go through your own share of the shadows and dark periods of life, but I pray that through this experience of the shadows and darkness may you truly discover and appreciate the beauty of the light. 

When I look back at my experiences the last 18 years, I realize that these were only possible because I was always curious to learn and explore. A deep sense of curiosity that refused to let me be bound by society and culture, and drove me to constantly explore. A sense of curiosity that was actually born out of Lawrence’s Liberal Arts education.

We live in a time where the quality of curiosity is always seen as a liability, as something that is childish and must shed away as we grow up, and a risk not many want to take. But I have realized that curiosity is the single most important quality we have as human beings. 

Class of 2024, may your curiosity always be insatiable, may you always nurture and cherish your curiosity at all times.  May your curiosity take you to the most interesting of places, and may it empower you to live colorful lives!

Finally, my third aspiration for the class of 2024 is the aspiration of understanding and accepting the notion of interdependence. 

Over the last 18 years, I have realized that everything in life, and every one of us, are all interdependent to one another.

Life is like a beautiful rainbow; it is the coming together of different causes and conditions. The rain drops, the sunlight and even the angle at which the light hits the raindrops are all interdependent in creating something so beautiful, so vivid as a rainbow. Yet also so fleeting. 

Everything in our lives, our emotions, our hopes, our dreams, even our fears are the coming together of different causes and conditions. They are all like a rainbow, so vivid, so real, so beautifully fleeting. It is this fleetingness and transitory nature that breathes life into us and everything around us. A rainbow is beautiful because it is fleeting. Life is so beautiful because it is so transitory. No one would appreciate a rainbow if the rainbow was perpetually hanging in the sky! 

Reminding myself and reflecting on the beauty of the interdependence of life, has guided me in making the biggest decisions of life and has showed me at difficult times what is most important to me. 

Class of 2024, may you create the most beautiful rainbows, but may you also learn to accept and be inspired by the fleetingness of the rainbows you will create. 

 As we say in Bhutanese Tashi Delek! Wishing all of you auspiciousness! Thank you!"

Monique Johnson '24

Monique Johnson '24 speaks at the podium
Monique Johnson '24

"Good morning staff, faculty, administration, and most importantly, the Class of 2024!

As the Class of 2024, we have faced adversities unlike any other. We were forced to learn how to rebuild and restructure our own worlds while the actual world around us was shutting down. From the loss of our senior year of high school to the loss of our loved ones, we have faced hardship through uncertain times, and that cannot go easily unnoticed. This class is undoubtedly one of the strongest graduating classes ever.

Pandemic be damned, we took to one of the greatest resources of our generation, the internet. From the Renegade and Savage remix dances to the Put a Finger Down Challenges, we brought a new meaning to the word community. I am so proud to be a part of a generation where even if we are physically separated, we are still connected, not just through technology but also in our hearts. Parents, your dedication and support do not go unseen. It is because of you that we stand here today, proud to call ourselves graduates of the Class of 2024. This is as much your day as it is ours. But don’t steal our regalia just yet, we’ll need them in a moment.

I stand here before you today as a first-generation college graduate. Before that, I am a first-generation African American and Caribbean woman. Upon arriving to Appleton, Wisconsin as a sixteen-year-old Black girl from Brooklyn, New York, I experienced the greatest cultural shock of my life. From the city that never sleeps to a city that closes at 8, I traded the big apple for the little apple. New York taught me how to be quick on my feet, developing a thick skin, always hyper independent. Appleton restored my love for nature and provided serene peace, an odd yet satisfying revelation. Even more so, Lawrence became the home I never knew I needed. I will never forget the all-nighters I pulled in Warch and Briggs, and I will always cherish my LUaroo and BSU (Black Student Union) Wet-and-Wavy Cookout memories. It is because of Lawrence that I am on track to becoming an attorney at age twenty-four and have been transformed into the graduate you see before you today. I am no longer that sixteen-year-old girl. In fact, she is unrecognizable to the woman I am today. Many of you can relate, and like many of you, my journey here at LU came with just as many trials and tribulations as it did joy and radiance.

Whether you are an international, out-of-state, in-state, or transfer student, you are here because Lawrence’s influence and all that it stands for appealed to you in an unforgettable way. Then, you stayed. You chose to endure the Lawrence busy, the sleepless nights, the ten-week turnarounds and everything in between, all part of being a Lawrentian. But you also chose Lawrence to spend a chapter of your life, however long or short that may have been. You chose to make this your home away from home; to laugh and cry, take a chance on love, pick up a new discipline, be vulnerable to hurt and reconciliation, and you trusted that the person you would be on this day would be the perfect version of the graduate you have dreamed to be. After all, before a student, you are human, and LU is far more than just a university.

However, I would urge you not to go out into this world striving for perfection. We are not perfect, nor should we want to be. We are both our greatest ally and our own worst enemy.

Furthermore, perfectionism is overrated. Striving for perfectionism is to deny ourselves our individuality, to unlearn everything Lawrence has taught us. The beauty of Lawrence is that none of us conform to one standard and we each come equipped with the best of what we can bring: ourselves.

Lawrence University is an astounding combination of a world-renowned Conservatory and Liberal Arts college that bestows an education and lifestyle tailored to our individuality. If you have taken nothing else from your time here, I hope that you have come to learn and experience that there is beauty in your imperfections, in every insecurity and case of imposter syndrome and within all of your stories as a human being. Be proud of who you are and your journey. Most of all, be proud to be a Lawrentian. We can be everything and anything all at once, at least if the Lawrence Busy is anything to go by. You have been students, activists, singers, dancers, musicians, scholars, researchers, and if I keep going, we will never leave here on time. The point of the matter is that you have been extraordinary in these roles, but you are capable of being so much more. Lawrence has ensured of that. This is not your end all be all, in fact, it is just the beginning.

Class of 2024, we have utilized each other’s strengths to rebuild our community, from online to on-campus. If we can do that, the possibilities are endless for each of us. Most of us did not get to have the full LU experience, but today we are standing stronger and shining brighter, more ready to take on whatever our futures hold. We clung to each other because it was what was safe for the time, and it became what we knew best. Now it is time to face the world and whatever that may mean or wherever that may be for you. For the first time in four years, it will not be with each other, and that is intense and just downright frightening. It is okay to have those fears, it is okay to question everything, because that is what adulting is. Lawrence has given us the blueprint to a successful life, and it is up to us to once again rise to the challenge; and shine your light like the Lawrentian you are.

Congratulations, Class of 2024. We made it!"

James Gandre '81

James Gandre '81 delivers his address at the Baccalaureate service in Memorial Chapel.
James Gandre '81

"President Carter, I want to thank you and the Board of Trustees for inviting me here for this commencement weekend and awarding me an honorary doctorate tomorrow. I am so incredibly grateful for this honor.

Class of 2024, I am so honored to be speaking to you today on the stage where I performed so many times and where I heard so many wonderful performances and speeches.  Congratulations on this significant milestone in your lives!  I urge you to savor every minute of this weekend.  

See coverage from the Baccalaureate service

When I was a student here, I was unaware of the numerous turns my life would take and I had no idea my life would be what it is today, more full and more fulfilling than I ever imagined.  One of those things I never imagined was being a college president and I also never imagined I would be conferring degrees on my fellow Lawrence alumni, just as I did a few weeks ago in New York City:

  • A Master’s degree to mezzo soprano Hannah Jones who is going to the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist program this fall;
  • A Professional Studies Certificate in orchestral performance to Tanner Stegink; and
  • A Doctor of Musical Arts to Leo Sussman who earned his Master’s from Yale University before coming to Manhattan School of Music.

This afternoon I want to share with you a few philosophical beliefs I have about living just that – a full and fulfilling life. But first, I’m going to talk about transformation as a college education has at its core the purpose of transformation. 

Students, your time at Lawrence has forever changed you.  Because you chose to come here, your education and experiences have been different, your friends are different, and your perspective of the world is different.  Your Lawrence education and experiences have also given you a foundation to allow for a myriad of possibilities that life may present.

Regarding transformation, I want to tell you a few things about myself that are not in my bio.  For the 18 years before coming to Lawrence, I lived 71 miles from here at 214 Lincoln Ave in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  My father was a skilled craftsman who worked in a furniture factory and my mother was a homemaker.  In her 50s, my mom decided to take a job outside our home as a supermarket clerk.  My parents taught me so much about hard work, honesty, and integrity, all of which are fundamental parts of who I am today.  My parents raised three biological children, adopted twins, and cared for 10 or so foster children as well along the way. 

When I graduated from high school, I had visited Chicago a few times and on three other occasions I traveled beyond – to Washington, DC, Houston, and Toronto.  Other than those few occasions, I spent my entire life in Wisconsin.

When I decided to attend Lawrence, I didn’t realize how this institution would dramatically transform my life.  When I arrived here, I had never heard an orchestra other than at my high school.  I had never seen an opera or been to a recital.  I had never heard a formal lecture of any kind.  There were other “nevers” from that time, but they are far too numerous to mention.

In Freshmen Seminar, I was challenged to think more broadly than I had ever been asked before.  In my American History class, I learned about the extraordinary and, yes, all too often tragic history of this great country.  I also attended great lectures on world issues in this very space.  I heard my first professional orchestra – Germany’s Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig.  A few times each year my classmates and I headed south to the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  And, in my music courses I began to grasp the breadth, depth, grandeur, and emotional power of music.

 I also came out here as a gay person in 1979, a time when that was uncommon and most often unsafe, and when there was not one single LGBTQ faculty or staff member on campus for me to seek support.

As you can see, Lawrence did indeed help transform my life.  It also helped me prepare for my life’s next chapter which was my Master’s degree in San Francisco.  And, of course, that experience built upon my Lawrence experience and subsequently led me to many others.  Lawrence was the critical bridge from my hometown to a plethora of extraordinary experiences I didn’t even know were possible when I enrolled here 47 years ago.  And collectively, these experiences led me to my current place in life, again, as a college president and married to the most wonderful man to whom I’ve been partnered for the past 27 years.

I’m quite sure that if I was able to hear your individual stories you would have your own versions of your transformative experiences here.  Perhaps some of you will tell me your stories this weekend.  I would sincerely like that!

Now, to those philosophical beliefs I have about living a full and fulfilling life.  

  • Privilege and responsibility. 

Tomorrow you will have a college degree.  According to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data, only 38 percent of adults 25 or older hold a Bachelor’s degree.  By being one of a minority of adults with such a degree, by default, no matter what other privileges you do or do not hold, you become part of a privileged group.  When I confer degrees at my college, I state that I confer those degrees with “all the rights, privileges, and obligations thereunto appertaining.”  That language is very formal and traditional, but it makes clear that with a degree comes obligations.  It is not just a credential that allows you to simply earn as much as possible and have greater personal freedom than others.  As Former First Lady Michelle Obama once said:

When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.

Throughout my life, I have tried to live by that creed.  I hope you will challenge yourself to do the same.

  • That brings me to choices.  

In his famous poem, The Road Not Taken, the great American poet Robert Frost tells us that there are choices that each of us makes that are life changing.  I want to take a moment to read you part of this poem.

Two roads diverged in a wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other less traveled . . .

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

On the road you will travel, take thoughtful, yet daring risks. I urge you to blaze new trails that will lead to great things for you, your loved ones, and your community, even when it’s scary and you are perhaps filled with self-doubt.

Alexa, a former student of mine in Chicago and now a cherished friend here today has done this several times over, auditioning for and getting into graduate school when others told her she couldn’t, then taking on a variety of interesting jobs, including working with me, then deciding to earn an MBA, and now finding a perfect spot for her at this moment in her life as Associate Artistic Director at The Public Theater in NYC.

My husband left a career in a large law firm, something some might feel foolhardy, to become a psychotherapist, something to which he is completely dedicated and passionate. 

  • And that leads me to passion.

I have never met anyone truly successful in life who does not have passion at their core.  Too often people feel compelled to move through life in a practical manner without doing what invigorates their being, their soul.  I posit this course of practicality most often leads to disappointment. 

My own passion is higher education.  I cannot imagine any other career that would bring such immense satisfaction and deep joy to my life.

Like my husband and our dear friend Kathleen here today, your passion may be helping others as a psychotherapist.  It may be teaching children is your passion, just like my Lawrence classmate Linda who is here today.  Among other things, Abby and Carroll, two of my dear friends here are deeply passionate about the arts and their effect on communities, and one of their passions is as arts advocates and philanthropists.  When Lance, another friend here today, talks about construction projects he’s working on, everyone palpably feels his passion about those projects and the work he has chosen to do.  My friend Karen’s children were her deep and endless passion.

Find the things that fuel you and give you purpose and fulfillment.  If you can do this, you will indeed be satisfied, content, and joyous in a multitude of ways throughout your life. 

  • Next, be curious, think, and most importantly be discerning.

Simply… be curious every single day of your life – over and over again.  And, think and be discerning.  Whether you consume information on X, Truth Social, CNN, Fox, or the New York Times, understand that every writer, pundit, television personality, just as I do and you do, has a particular point of view.

  • And the last of my philosophical bullet points, be sure the world is a better place because you were here on earth.

In 1957, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: 

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others? 

My friend Nathan is here today.  When the war in Ukraine broke out, he went there twice to help the people of Ukraine.  My dearest friend Camille, who is also here today, devoted her life to legal education with a particular focus on access and opportunities for black and brown students, as well as other students who had historically been left behind in society.  Win Thrall is here today, and she devoted her professional life to Lawrence.  An early mentor of mine at Lawrence, she went out of her way over and over again and so unselfishly to support and mentor me and make me a better person.

As I close today, I want to return to the transformative power of education and my – our – Lawrence education, in particular.  You will carry this great institution, your experiences here – the wonderful ones, the tough ones, and everything in between – you will carry these experiences with you throughout your life.  Like other Lawrence alumni, your life journeys will be extraordinarily interesting and tremendously varied.  Don't limit your options to what is right in front of you or to what someone else has always wanted for you, whether that person is a parent, partner, friend, or mentor.  Choose what makes you happy, what stimulates you, and what motivates and nurtures your spirit; what enlivens passion in your soul. 

Michelle Obama said this at Tuskegee University’s commencement in 2015:

I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves.  I want you to ask those basic questions: Who do you want to be?  What inspires you?  How do you want to give back?  And then I want you to take a deep breath and trust yourselves to chart your own course and make your mark on the world. 

This is truly an important moment in your lives.  It is the culmination of your studies here, an achievement about which you should feel deservedly proud.  There is a banquet of opportunities out there for each of you.  I challenge you to chart your individual journey.  Build a life that you want for yourself.  Choose your own road to travel, not anyone else’s.

If you authentically do all of these things, you will end up in the right place for you and in doing so you will meet your own expectations for your life – not anyone else’s – yours.  If you do so, then, as Robert Frost wrote, "ages and ages hence" you will be able to say with satisfaction that you took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.

So now, I charge you to go forth and do wonderful and special things for yourself and for this very precious and incredibly fragile world which we all share.

Congratulations Class of 2024!"