tv Commencement Speeches Gov. Gretchen Whitmer University of Michigan CSPAN May 28, 2019 1:09am-1:23am EDT
witmer, who spoke at the university of michigan commencement ceremony, telling the graduating class to fight injustice, fight intolerance, and fight in different. she is a 1993 graduate of michigan state university. [applause] governor witmer: hello, you beautiful wolverines. distinguished deans, faculty, staff, friends, family, and most importantly, the amazing class of 2019. congratulations. [applause] gov. witmer: i am truly honored to celebrate with you today. you may know i have been a spartan since my dad took me to see magic johnson.
i can amid tom brady and jared dieter round out the top three. there is a lot to admire about the university of michigan. your stellar reputation and surprisingly chic football helmets. your exceptional students from michigan and all over the world. and your fight song. a masterpiece of verbal economy. one of the most durable ear worms i have ever encountered. we have something in common. four years ago, you were leaving
your friends and family in the comfort of your home to embark on a journey that led you to write here, right now. four years ago, i was also headed to ann harbor to teach. not entirely sure what to expect. but when i arrive, something amazing happened. i came to this beautiful campus and here, i experienced my own version. i got to engage with students, both undergraduate and graduate, who were so thoughtful and smart. students who were passionate and eager to learn and full of big ideas. like holding class at charlie's. [laughter] gov. witmer: students who challenged me in ways i had not been challenged in some time. and now with my honorary degree, i am also a wolverine and proud of it. [applause] gov. whitmer: i do not say this often. but go blue. [applause]
gov. whitmer: my roots in michigan are deep. i was born here. my parents were raised here. my grandmother lived in the same house in pontiac for nearly 60 years. her turquoise shag carpet went in and out of fashion at least three times in her tenure. but it was spotless just as she liked it. margaret elliott was born in 1913 on a modest farm in ohio. she lived to be 100 years old. she was smart and strong and funny, a natural educator and amazing gardener, and a fashion rebel who wore white jeans year-round. she used to tell people she kept her figure until 85. then it went to hell. she drove until she was 98.
her last car was a red convertible. her biggest fault was that she was an ohio state graduate. see, i knew you were too classy to boo my dear departed grandmother. she thought the world changed more in her century than she had in any other in history. i think she may have been right. even if she was not, it is impolite to argue with your 100 year old grandmother. my grandmother had three pieces of advice that stuck with me. work hard. don't get married until you're 28, and never part your hair in the middle. [applause] gov. whitmer: i am not sure what the last one was all about. over the course of her lifetime, she gained the right to vote, lost the right to drink, then got it back again. there were wars, korea, vietnam, iraq, afghanistan, and iraq again. one president was assassinated,
one resigned in scandal. one was impeached and for the first time, an african-american man held the office. [applause] gov. whitmer: there was a great depression and a great recession and the american financial system teetered on the brink of collapse. astronauts walked on the moon and two space shuttles exploded. mccarthyism, desegregation, watergate, the civil rights act. school shootings, obamacare. these are just the historical events. think about advances in technology and science and travel. nuclear power, radio, airplanes, television, antibiotics. the internet, cell phones, and nearest and dearest to us in michigan, the automobile.
the world has undergone enormous change and each successive decade the pace continues to accelerate, which might be scary for some. if they did not realize something about you, you are the best education -- i am sorry. you are the best educated generation ever. this year, the year you have earned your diploma, yours is forecasted to become the largest generation in the united states. that means you, all of you, are poised to shape the future of this nation and the world. you are now on the driver's seat. the question is, where do you want to go? often when we talk about generations, we talk about whether the current generation has done better than the last. typically, the only variable used for this measurement is money. we know that money alone cannot guarantee happiness. it will not mend a broken heart. it does not prevent tragedy. it cannot conjure joy. the instinct to equate it with well-being persists.
studies comparing generations are beginning to conclude that yours might be the first to not do better than your parents. but if change in our society is only accelerating, why would we continue to use the same old metric to measure how we are doing? why are we measuring success with bank statements? i do not think it makes much sense. because i believe your generation will do better simply by doing good. over the course of my lifetime and in my career, i have seen my -- our systems breakdown. our dialogues turn into monologues. technology amplifying the voices of those willing to embrace extremes and vilify those who disagree with them. we've rewarded people who sow chaos and distrust, who tell us we can have everything and pay for nothing.
who glorify greed and criminalize poverty. right now, we're pretty dysfunctional we are still a young country or maybe these are just awkward teenage years. it is 2019 and you just got your license. where do you want to go? i know i am expecting a lot out of you. i tell you that great expectations beget great results. i watched my high school daughters and i know, they're occupied with far more serious thoughts than my generation was forced to reckon with at that age. but there is passion and activism and courage and even wisdom that go with it. i have been inspired by young champions in the battle against climate change. i met a 12-year-old who started filling potholes because his -- s
i watched the students at a high school motivated new generation to solve problems made worse by years of inaction. to participate in our democracy at a much younger age, to grab megaphones and amplify positive messages, to brilliantly use technology for their cause. i believe you, your generation, and generations that follow will be the engine that drives course correction for our country and the world. it will take hard work. so think about it. where do you want to go? i'm not just talking about politics. i'm talking about life. we need to remember that while we all come from different backgrounds with different opportunities and views of the world, we all have value. we deserve dignity and respect and we all have a stake in our shared future. the best chance to meet the challenges we face is to stop
yelling and start listening and to recognize that fixing infrastructure isn't just about roads, but about fairness and opportunity. to know we can improve the world when we fight injustice, intolerance, and indifference, but not when we fight each other. let me repeat that. fight injustice. fight intolerance. fight indifference. it is not always easy. there will be times when you need a fight song to lift your spirits. perhaps one that selected the of alllege fight song time, to one that plays on a loop in your head incessantly. yes. hail to the victors. before you leave here today, looking toward the future, take a moment to reflect on your time here. the friendships you have made, the papers you have written, the lectures that moved you, and even the ones you dozed through.
this is a magical time in your life. take a moment before blazing in a trail, appreciate your professors and thank your parents and those who supported you along the way. from here out, you'll meet wolverines all over the world. you will meet them and while you may not agree on everything, that thread binds you. i encourage you to wear your block m on your sleeve long after you leave here, to remind yourself and everyone you meet michael over in when you see them and see the good in them. if you more pieces of advice. i would like to offer as you prepare for the next leg of your
journey, like my grandma said, work hard. make a plan. part your hair however you like. if you do good, you will do better than the generation that came before. class of 2019, you brilliant wolverines, i will go back to fixing the damn roads. [applause] gov. whitmer: but now is up to you to buckle your seatbelts and decide where you want to go. today, we will all be happy unlike my other times here at the big house. because we are all wolverines and i congratulate you. congratulations and go blue. [applause] >> watch commencement speeches all week on c-span. tuesday josh holly at the kings college in new york city,
illinois democratic representative lauren underwood speaks in oakland, california. southern district of new york deputy district attorney delivers her marks at boston university law school. we will look back to may, 2009 for comedian of and generous speaking at -- ellen degeneres speaking at tulane university. watch commitment speeches tuesday at 8:00 eastern on c-span. listen on the free c-span radio app. announcer: four years after serving his second term as president, ronald reagan gave the commencement address at the citadel, a military college in charleston, south carolina. he outlined his ideas on the nature of character and what it takes to make good decisions as a leader. [applause] pres. reagan: thank you. thank you.