Good afternoon. Good afternoon, President Dooley, distinguished guests, family, friends and most of all the reason we're here—graduates of the class of 2017.
It is such a pleasure for me to be here today, and as the governor of this great state I am filled with pride and optimism—proud of you for persisting through the ups and downs and optimism because I know you've been well trained, you're talented, you have passion, and you're going to go into the world and make the world better in whatever that you do.
And I've had the chance to get to know a number of you, and I have to tell you—you guys are extraordinary.
I know Jerilyn Fernandez, a first-generation college student. She took 19 credits every semester, and now aims to combine her passion for health communications in Spanish by advocating for vulnerable patients and caregivers.
Grads like Army veteran Brandon Brass, who's taking his passion for teaching from the military to grade-school science classrooms with a bachelors in biology and secondary science education.
People like United States Navy officer David Davis. He made a mid-life leap from deep-sea diving to pursuing his passion for nursing.
Don't worry—I'm not going through the whole class. But that's just a small sampling of the hundreds of you who are so extraordinary, who come here with your own stories and your own talents and your own passions, and now you're even better than you were when you entered.
Now, in addition to being proud of you, I have a charge for each and every one of you, which is—number one—I want all of you to think about sticking around in Rhode Island. If you want to be an entrepreneur, start your business in Rhode Island. If you want to be a nurse, do it in Rhode Island. You want to be a doctor, do it in Rhode Island. We need your talent. URI is among the best universities in the land, and we want you to stay here.
Now, for the few misguided among you who may be leaving the state—I'll consider that temporary and I want you back at some later point in time. And always keep Rhode Island in your heart and in your mind and what you think about, because this state has given you a great education. We have loved having you here, and every one of us is deeply committed to you and your success.
And as a mother, I want to give a special shout out and expression of gratitude to all the families that are here. Graduates, give your families and friends and moms and dads a hand. You wouldn't be here without them. They had your back. They believed in you when you weren't even sure if you believed in yourself.
So congratulations. Have fun today. Remember what I told you about Rhode Island.
Congratulations, God bless and good luck.