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Speakers' Advice for the Washington Region's Class of 2009
In all the excitement of today, I hope you will not overlook the lasting value of the people you have shared this meaningful journey with: the friends who decades from now will remember your face and character just as clearly as the St. Mary's River.
Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service
Former U.S. senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)
I share with you five lessons I have learned over the years that may be of some value to you as you look forward from this day.
Lesson 1: Do what is ethical, not just what is legal. Too often, especially in Washington, we define our standards of conduct by legality. We blow past the ethical boundaries trying to maximize profit or prestige or influence. There is a difference between ethical and legal conduct. . . .
Lesson 2: Take risks and seek new experiences. Nothing worth having in life comes without the risk of failure. . . .
Lesson 3: Don't focus on the externals. Georgetown University has given you a tremendous start in life, but it is only a start. Do not lose your sense of curiosity and quest for improvement.
Lesson 4: Give something back. You have all benefited from living in a country that among other privileges has allowed you the opportunity to receive a first-rate education. With this privilege comes a responsibility to give something back to your country and your fellow man. . . .
Lesson 5: Remember what really matters in life. . . . Every graduate today is here because family, friends and professors helped you get here. In life, it is these great treasures that matter most. Do not forget it.