Inside Rensselaer
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Focus on: Commencement  2008
While striving for success, the leaders of tomorrow must also pursue internal authenticity and happiness to discover ways of making a difference in the world, David Gergen told the graduating Class of 2008 at Rensselaer. The author, editor, presidential adviser, political analyst, and Harvard professor addressed more than 2,000 graduating students and their families May 17 at Rensselaer’s 202nd Commencement on the Harkness Field.

“Leaving this university, you should be ready to make a good living,” Gergen said. “The question becomes whether you’re ready to make a good life. . . The challenge is one of discovering your own inner fire — what provides the nourishment for your soul as well as your brain.”

President Shirley Ann Jackson challenged graduates to change the world and live extraordinary lives. She told graduates that their efforts and achievements over the coming years will help to write the next chapter of Rensselaer’s historic legacy.

“You are walking in the footsteps of Rensselaer graduates who made the discoveries, constructed the canals, roads, bridges, skyscrapers, the basic infrastructure here and around the world, which formed the basis for 19th and 20th century society,” Jackson said. “Your forebearers changed the world — just as you will.”

“You are an impressive group. You have left your mark on the Institute. It is a richer institution because of you,” Jackson said. “And as you go forward, I challenge you to take the extra step to lead extraordinary lives. By this I do not mean necessarily becoming famous, or rich, or lauded publicly for your achievements. What I mean by “extraordinary” is to seize the moment, to seize the opportunities in your lives — and as Rensselaer graduates you will have many—and to use them to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Class President Sarah DiNovo ’08 commended her fellow graduates on their ability over the past four years to weather and embrace the changing face of their campus, nation, and world.

“At Rensselaer, we have listened, discussed, debated, researched, and analyzed,” DiNovo said. “Through all of these experiences we have had successes and failures, but in the end we learned about ourselves and others. While the knowledge that we have accumulated in our time here has been immense, the true value of our time at Rensselaer cannot be found in textbooks but rather in the experience we have had.”

“I have but one wish for this graduating class,” DiNovo said. “Let us be the ones bold enough, brave enough, and yes, crazy enough, to change the world.”
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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 10, June 6, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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