Nancy Pelosi

Commencement Speech at Miami Dade College - May 3, 2008

Nancy Pelosi
May 03, 2008— Miami, Florida
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Good morning! I am absolutely delighted to be with each and every one of you on your very, very special day.

I thank you for the kind introduction that I have just received from Dr. Vicente, and I congratulate each and every one of you on what is about to happen when you receive your diploma and your commencement. As Helen said, this is just the beginning.

I want to acknowledge President Eduardo Padrón for his tremendous leadership of this great institution of higher learning. [to Padrón:] Congratulations on your many accomplishments and your great leadership.

I want to thank Chairman Helen Aguirre Ferre for her leadership, to the Board of Trustees, to the staff, to all who have made this graduation possible. Thank you for the invitation to be here. More important than that—thank you for what you are doing for these children for America’s future.

I come to Miami Dade College, North Campus, today as Speaker of the House, and to bring you greetings from the Congress of the United States—greetings and congratulations. I also come carrying the hopes of our nation. A great deal rests on this very special class.

Miami Dade has already been very generous to the nation, with many of the alumni—and I won’t name them all because you know they would be too numerous—but some that I serve with in Congress: Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman John Mica. I want to make special mention of the person who represents the district that Miami Dade College, North Campus is in, Congressman Kendrick Meek, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party and in the Congress of the United States. That’s just in Congress. I know many mayors and public officials have come from Miami Dade—Mayor Manny Diaz, who was here earlier and I’m sure is still here, Mayor Carlos Alvarez, and so many, many others.

So I hope that some of you are thinking—I think Lance is—of keeping the tradition of public service going, emanating from Miami Dade.

Today, I salute the many people who made this day possible for you. Barbara, earlier in her beautiful reflection, referred to your families, faculty and friends who made this possible for you. We’ve reflected upon them, we’ve thanked them in our hearts: Let’s extend our appreciation to our families and friends who have made this possible. [Pelosi and audience applaud].

How wonderful it was to see the beautiful reaction to the American flag. Let us salute our brave men and women in uniform. I know that many of you in this class have already served our country in uniform and many of you will. Thank you, because as you sang earlier, we are the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that would not be possible without the patriotism of our men and women in uniform.

It was in that spirit—land of the free, home of the brave—that more than 230 years ago, our Founding Fathers declared our independence, won a war against the greatest military power that existed at the time, and wrote a constitution making America the freest country the world had ever seen.

On the Great Seal of the United States, these founders wrote something that said “novus ordo seclorum”—“a new order for the centuries.”

So confident were they. So much faith that they had in themselves, in our nation-to-be, in God, so much faith in the future—that they didn’t say this was an experiment. They didn’t say it was for years or decades. It said seclorum—for the centuries.

That entrepreneurial spirit of creating something new and having the confidence and optimism for centuries is what America is all about.

Their confidence sprang from the idea that every generation of Americans would have the responsibility to make the future better for the next generation.

This is called the American Dream. And people flocked to our shores from all over the world. And they continue to do so, in search of the American Dream.

America is a just and good place, with a fair and efficient society, and a source of opportunity and hope for all.

And what you said earlier, in the pledge to the flag—a place with liberty and justice for all.

For those reasons, people have flock to our shores. Some of you are newcomers. Some of you, your trip here today began in another country. You understand that for those who struggle against oppression, America is a beacon of freedom…for those who are seeking a better life, America is a source of hope and opportunity.

But understand this: by people coming to our shore, every newcomer—whether it was hundreds of years ago or a couple of days ago—makes America more American because these newcomers bring their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations, their commitment to make the future better for the next generation.

I know that many of you come from families who are newcomers to America. Please understand how we all depend on you. The beautiful diversity which is the strength of America. The confidence in the future—the faith in the future—that your families have and that you have, again, makes America more American.

Also know that newcomers invigorate America. Why are we so special? Because we are constantly reinvigorated by new people bringing their hopes and dreams.

It’s very exciting, and that’s why I was so pleased to receive the invitation to be here with you today at this all-American commencement.

Central to all that we want to talk about about the future is education. It is the best investment that parents can make in their children, individuals can make in themselves, and a nation can make in its future.

I know that many of you have served in the military. Some of you earned this degree while balancing work and family - to make the future better for your children and yourself

I come before you today as Speaker of the House of Representative and I’m proud to be here in that role, but the role I am most proud of is mother to my five children, and grandmother to my seven grandchildren.

I view my work in politics and government as an extension of my role as mother. To make the future better, not only for my own family, but for all children in America. And what drives my engine in this regard is that we want all children to have the same opportunity, but my commitment is to the one in five children who in America who live in poverty. We must change that.

When I was a young mom, taking care of my babies; later when they were in school, packing their school lunches and checking homework, I never imagined I would run for Congress, or ever be Speaker of the House.

But when those opportunities presented themselves, I was ready for them.

And that’s my message for you today. You never know what opportunity may be around the next corner. Be ready for it. Recognize opportunity and be ready for it—because you just don’t know what the future may hold for you.

I have three parts to my message: Recognize and be open to opportunity

Secondly, follow your passion.

What is your passion? My passion, as I said, was about children and making our country work for all children—especially the one in five. Every morning, I say to my colleagues: Remember the one in five. Justice—social, economic justice—for all.

That is why in the opening of the new Congress, when I became Speaker that day, I called the House to order on behalf of all—all—of America's children.

Today, you will graduate with an education that will help you make America healthier, make America safer, make our economy stronger, improve our reputation in the world with our beautiful knowledge of other countries and other cultures.

For many of you, these are your passions. Follow them—you never know where they may lead you.

Finally, you must have faith in the future.

This is the American tradition. Without that faith in the future, we would not have existed, if our founders were not so sure.

With your graduation today, you can go forth with confidence that Miami Dade have given you an education that will serve you well in reaching your highest aspirations.

You can go forth with faith in yourself, in your education faith in our great nation, and faith in the future.

As you go forth with this degree, know that you have not only achieved something great for yourself and for your family, but you have made America stronger.

Recognizing opportunity, following your passion, and having faith in the future, I know you will use your education to continue to make the future better for your family and for the next generation. It is called are the American Dream, and you are the living proof of the American Dream.

Today I will be receiving an honorary degree from Miami Dade, and I’m very, very proud of that. I will accept it with great pride, and you know—we’re classmates now, when I get the degree and the class of 2008 gets its degrees today. We will become classmates—we will have a special bond. So, my classmates, remember that you have a friend in the Speaker's office.

Congratulations! Felicidades! Konpliman!

May God bless you! May God bless America! Thank you for allowing me to be part of your very special day.

ACEVideoChannel. "Miami Dade College North / Hialeah Campus 2008 Commencement Keynote Speech Nancy Pelosi.m4v." YouTube video, 16:24. June 5, 2012.

Pelosi, Nancy. 2008. "Pelosi Delivers Commencement Address at Miami Dade College's North Campus." Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, press release, May 3, 2008.