Ohio State Commencement, May 10, 2015
11,037 caps tossed in the air by Ohio State’s largest graduating class.
It’s easy to be transfixed by numbers.
It’s harder to remember that each of those numbers represents a story.
Stories made of four years of laughter and tears, new doors opening, old ones closing, fears overcome and friendships formed.
Each story shares common themes. Each is unique.
It is difficult to describe the college experience to those who have not had it. Suffice it to say, college changes your life in unimaginable ways.
What really prepares students to do great things is to have great experiences.
More than books and courses — discourse — engaging with others vastly different from yourself. Being challenged and tested in an arena designed for intellectual, social and cultural growth, tangling and wrangling with real people, real ideas. It is what is meant by an education.
As I got ready to hand out diplomas to arts and sciences students, I felt very good knowing that what I was handing them was not the meaningless piece of paper that the old saying describes as, “This and a dollar (or whatever it now costs), can buy you a cup of coffee.”
No, it buys you the world.
Arts and sciences graduates know how to live in the world. They will go forth and do great things. Never underestimate the power of an arts and sciences education to ignite and inspire innovation and invention, to open doors to collaboration and connection to succeed.