WASHINGTON – At Howard University’s 145th graduation ceremony Saturday, the class of 2013 was welcomed into the real world by a 42nd.
The 42nd President of the United States that is.
President Bill Clinton took an overnight flight from Haiti to Washington, D.C., to deliver the commencement speech, although he joked it was the least important part of the ceremony.
“The most successful commencement speeches are brief and highly relevant,” President Clinton said in his opening, likely referring to the steady rain that preceded his appearance at the outdoor ceremony and the cloudy skies that continued to hover as he took to the podium.
Former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder, the nation’s first black governor since Reconstruction, did some future-projecting in his remarks introducing Clinton.
“Though I know he has deserved a rest from all of those things that he’s done,” Wilder said, “I think many of you would agree with me that we might very well see Bill Clinton in the White House again.”
Clinton chuckled, but did not offer any comment on the subject of his wife’s political ambitions. Instead, he spoke to the 2,687 members of this year’s graduating class about making the most of their lives.
“Try to do something that will make you happy,” he said. “And, most people are happiest doing what they are best at.”
He also highlighted Howard Medical School as being one of 13 university medical schools nationwide working with his Clinton Global Initiative to help retrain health care workers in Rwanda. It flowed into his overall message, and that of the other speakers, stressing the importance of not letting success be a deterrent to helping others in need.
“If you do what makes you happy, and you don’t give up, and you keep serving, I think you will end up living in the most interesting, prosperous, and peaceful time in human history,” Clinton said before he gave a presidential wave, and walked off stage.
Clinton was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree during the ceremony.