Rep. Capuano Urges BU Grads To Seek Fufillment By Bettering Society

in Commencement, News Releases
May 17th, 2009

Contact: Phil Gloudemans, 617-353-6546 |

(Boston) – Speaking today at Nickerson Field to over 6,300 Boston University graduates and 20,000 guests at the school’s 136th commencement, U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano exhorted the Class of 2009 to find fulfillment in their lives by improving the world they are inheriting.

“You can get a job, climb the ladder of success, make money and build a very comfortable life for yourselves. But if that is all you do with your life, you will not feel fulfilled,” stated Capuano, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by BU President Robert A. Brown at New England’s largest graduation ceremony. “You will always know you didn’t challenge your intellect to improve society. You didn’t use your voice to protest injustice. You will pass through this life without leaving much of wake behind you.

“You do not have to be extraordinary; you don’t have to be rich or famous to change this world. Anyone and everyone can make a difference,” said Capuano, a sixth-term congressman who has long sought to end the ongoing atrocities and genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. “Your generation will discover ways to power our cars and businesses that don’t pollute. You will invent new ways to improve crop yields, to feed the hungry and the world, and you’ll discover new cures to common human diseases.

“I have faith in you. Your parents have faith in you. My entire generation has faith in you, and in fact, we envy you. You will change the world; you will change it in ways we cannot imagine. But please remember that with the success you will enjoy comes responsibility, for your neighbor, for your country, for your environment and for your children.”

Reverend Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D., a pediatrician at the South End Community Health Center and the co-pastor of Boston’s Bethel AME Church, delivered the baccalaureate address at Marsh Chapel to kick-off today’s formal commencement events at New England’s largest graduation ceremony.

“As you seek to discern your next steps during this season of challenge, allow me to suggest three: Step up with courage; step out with faith; step forward with determination. No ifs, no ands, no buts, just do it,” urged Rev. White-Hammond, who was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the main commencement. “Clip the ‘ifs,’ can the ‘ands,’ and kick the ‘buts’ – Just do it!”

Also receiving honorary degrees at commencement were: J Allard (Doctor of Letters), who as chief experience officer and chief technology officer at Microsoft for the Entertainment and Devices Division, he lead the development of the Xbox game console and the Zune media player; Indiana Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations and Boston Celtics’ legend Larry Bird (Doctor of Letters); former BU Trustee Chair and Beacon Capital Partners’ Chair and CEO Alan Leventhal (Doctor of Laws); and Steven Spielberg (Doctor of Humane Letters), one of the most successful and influential filmmakers of all time, and principal owner of DreamWorks Studios.

Zhang Yimou (Doctor of Humane Letters), a leading Chinese filmmaker who produced the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, was unable to attend and will be awarded his honorary degree at a later date.

Daniel L. Bellin, a Trustee Scholar who graduated with a degree in Biomedical Engineering gave the student address. The Newton, Mass.-native will pursue a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Columbia University in the fall.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

(Note to editors: High-resolution digital photographs of Boston University’s 136th commencement are available at

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