Maura Healey

Concord Academy Commencement Address – June 2, 2017

Maura Healey
June 02, 2017— Concord Academy, Concord, Massachusetts
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Good morning, CA. You all look amazing.

Emma, thank you so much for that introduction, and it was an honor to meet you. I am inspired by you and by all of your classmates, and even those sophomores and juniors who are in the way, way back. Someday you'll be here.

Thank you so much for the invitation to come and spend this morning with you.

Thank you, Rick and Kim, for inviting me and this wonderful class of 2017.

Emma, Mary – thank you for your words and you no doubt represent so much of the wonder and the beauty and the amazement of this great class here.

So I am really thrilled to be here with all of you. I couldn't think of a better place to be than here in Concord, Massachusetts, at Concord Academy, here on this glorious morning.

Now before we turn the focus immediately to all of you, which is what this day is rightly about, I do want to just have you all look back and acknowledge all of the people who got you here today – the faculty and staff; the coaches, advisors and house parents; brothers, sisters, grandparents, parents. I met many of them on the way in.

Your families, loved ones and support networks have worked so hard to see you through to this day. I know that you know that, but you can never thank people enough, so let's give all of those wonderful folks a hand for their love and support. [Applause]

Now back to all of you – All Stars. I'm glad you chose that song. I love you don't have distinction but then, you know, you are all all-stars. That is certainly true. And you know I think about you…. And the how about the house band – let's give it up for the house band. [Applause] Did you teach them all that, Ross? Congratulations to you.

Look, all of you. You've worn the uniform of the Chameleons, a unique and interesting mascot, no doubt. I'm still checking… My [?] is going to explain that to me someday.

You performed at the PAC, you delivered your chapels, you finished your exams, and now you have made it to this day.

You know, ordinarily you invite somebody like me to come and speak and to offer all of you words of wisdom or general advice, but we are not living in ordinary times, are we? Your senior year began in the final stages of an unprecedented campaign. The rest of the years felt like a roller coaster, with the entire country along for the ride.

And as I thought about what to say to you this morning, I thought about the very values that define this community, your community. A love of learning and a pursuit of knowledge, a belief in diversity and diverse perspectives, and, of course, common trust – the idea that we're not just here for ourselves, we're here to help one another.

They're the same values that I'd like to think reflect and guide the work back in the people's law firm. In fact, that's one of the reasons I made it a point to hire as many CA graduates as possible, some of whom are with me here today – Mike Firestone, Dave Cavell, and newly arrived Henry Bro just started last week. [Applause] I mean it. I'm into your values. I'm into your values.

But right now, folks, we know that those very values are under attack and are threatened in this country. They're threatened by a president and administration that doesn't seem to get it, that doesn't fundamentally understand the most sacred charge and responsibility that they swore an oath to uphold.

Yesterday's announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord is just the latest example. They fired scientists and deleted climate change references from government websites. They harass journalists. And since day one, they have done their level best to demean and disparage the vulnerable among us – immigrants, racial and religious minority groups, and LGBTQ Americans.

So before I offer you any advice, I'm here to ask for your help. Because we need you. We need your spirit, your passion, your compassion and tenacity.

I like that, Mary – compassion and tenacity. That's a perfect blend for what you bring and what this country needs right now.

We need you to stand up for the values of CA and your community, the values of a free society. We need you to commit to ideals like intellectual honesty, social justice and equality, and the common trust, which I know you all know something about.

Not only are you here to help one another, we're also here to leave the planet a little bit better than we found it, isn't that right?

So look, now with your education and your experiences, the things that you have built here at CA, you are ready to be advocates no matter where you go. You've learned them in the writings of Henry David Thoreau – I know a local favorite – from Maya Angelou, the history of social change in America and around the world, you've learned them in music studio and on the stage and in the lab, and now we need you to pass them on.

That's your charge as you leave here today – in new schools, in new jobs, in new cities – because, folks, you know this. The common trust just doesn't exist. It is built. A belief in science doesn't just happen, it's supported with resources, care and attention, and people who are trained to engage.

And inclusion and equality aren't achieved simply through t-shirts and slogans, but in the act of simply extending a hand, giving a hug, and speaking out at every turn whenever you see injustice, discrimination, bigotry, or hatred. Isn't that right? You know what that is about. [Applause]

And that's what you're going to have the opportunity to do every day, in ways large and small, as you go forward.

Now I promise you – despite what you wake up to in the morning or see across the phone at night, you're not going to be alone. There are some who are trying to take us back, but you are not going to be alone in this work.

You know, Emma referenced my experience earlier this year when I literally landed at Logan Airport. I happened to be flying into Logan the day the travel ban went into effect, and I asked my team immediately to go over to Terminal E, the international terminal, and when I got there I saw the most amazing thing. There was confusion and chaos. Travelers had been detained, couldn't get to their families.

But something else incredible was happening, too. Hundreds of people were showing up at the airport. Some of them were immigration lawyers who left kids’ soccer matches on a Saturday, rushed to the airport ready to help. Some were translators, ready to assist a family in need. They went to the airport to not only express their beliefs but as an embodiment of their beliefs and their values. That's what I'm talking about.

And in the days that followed that, you saw so many others speak out – businesses, our tech companies, college students, ministers of all faiths.

And yes, three days later my office got to work, as it is our job, and we sued the president on behalf of the interests of American families and American values. [Applause] And we beat them in court, not once but, yes, twice.

But look, that didn't happen in a vacuum. It happened because people of goodwill from all walks of life who brought different talents and experiences and abilities to the table came together to show and reflect that they had a personal stake in what was happening.

It may have been happening to another person or another family, but I think what the core of the common trust is about is understanding that in that, you all recognize that is happening to you as well. We own that together. All of it mattered.

And the lesson that I take from the travel ban experience is that we need to continually look to reaffirm the common trust, to stick up for one another.

I wish I could say, to predict, that it was going to get easier in the weeks, days and months ahead. I'm not sure that that is the case, but I know that with your education and your skills, you're the best to be on the front lines.

Now more than ever, we have to go forward and support scholarship and academe and scientists in their pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of truth. Now more than ever, we need to stick up for the ideas that you have learned here at CA.

And I just want to remind some of you, but you know this from history books, there was once a senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan – you may have heard of him – who said famously, quote, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts.” [Applause and laughter] That's true – you're entitled to your own opinion. You're not entitled to your own set of alternative facts. Fake news isn't news.

And so my ask today, folks, is simple. We need you to stick up for the truth. We need you to stand up for integrity, to stand up for science. We need you to speak out against injustice.

I know it won't be easy, but the challenges facing our country and our planet are being passed on to you, to this generation.

That's what the big deal is about finally being able to walk down those stairs. I hear you can't go on those stairs until you actually reach this day, but you made it down those stairs and you're ready to go out as all-stars into the world and deliver.

And it's going to be your compassion and your tenacity, your ingenuity and your innovative spirit that is going to take us forward. And I'm talking us the big us, not just this country but this world. It's on you.

And that brings me to my final point. This is a commencement, so I'm allowed to give a little bit of advice, I suppose.

Now look, you're all CA graduates so I know by definition you want to be part of these fights. You have been a part of these fights. Now the question may be, though, for some of you, how? How do I do that?

Don't stress. It'll happen. Opportunities will present themselves. Some of you know you're off to college in the fall. Some of you are off to jobs or gap-year experiences or other endeavors. Safe to say, though, you don't really know what the future holds, and I'm here to say that's okay.

Twenty-nine years ago where I sat where you sat, though not in as beautiful a venue, I could never have predicted that I'd be playing pro basketball four years later, let alone that I’d go on to law school or end up in this unlikely position as attorney general. But I do know now, having recently spent time at a college reunion last weekend, that a lot of the foundation for everything that was to follow, if I look back now, I can see had its roots in the experiences similar to experiences you've just been through together these last four years.

So don't stress about it, but pay attention. Pay attention to what excites you, what interests you, what fires you up. That's going to allow you to be who you want to be, even if it isn't – and it probably shouldn't be – apparent to you now.

I know you're going to make a contribution because of the education that you have received, so follow your interests, pursue your passions, and if you do, you may never know where you end up.

You know, the best thing I probably did was ignoring my parents, my advisors in college and everyone who told me that I was nuts to turn down graduate school and other career opportunities upon college graduation to move to a rural town in Austria to attempt to play professional basketball with a bunch of daughters of dairy farmers. I thought it sounded pretty cool, not just because like Rick I grew up in New Hampshire was very comfortable with dairy farmers, it just felt right.

And I'm glad that I trusted my gut on that one, because in that experience I had the opportunity to meet people I would never have met in my life. I went to Europe at the beginning of the start of a conversation about a European Union. I went to Europe where the former Yugoslavia was breaking apart and refugees were fleeing into the country in which I was living. I was coached, actually, by a refugee who had fled Yugoslavia and found work coaching women's basketball. And I learned so much and it absolutely has formed my course.

I learned, for example, that you don't need to speak the same language to work together, to get along, to understand each other, and to get things done. I learned, too, about some of the precious freedoms and experiences that we enjoy in this country as an American democracy that found their roots right here in Concord and in Massachusetts. And I saw in the most profound ways what happens when those freedoms are not available to others. It's probably what ultimately led me a couple years later to go to law school. And now I get the privilege of representing all of you and taking cases up to the Supreme Court.

So it's okay to trust your gut, even when everybody is telling you it may not be the best move.

Because at the end of the day, you have everything that you need. You have that foundation through your experiences and your education learned here at CA. Stay curious, stay humble and stay kind. I can only imagine, seniors, the wonders that are before you and everything that you are going to do.

I want to tell you one last bit of advice, and that is make sure you text, if not call, occasionally – I know most people don't do that anymore – your parents and your loved ones [Applause], because they're always going to be way more nervous about you than you will ever be about yourself. So be in touch.

And as you go forward, know that you are capable of anything and everything.

On that travel ban case, Emma – you know one of the greatest stories I heard coming out of that was a woman who is a very modest means who can't afford to write a check to an immigrant advocacy organization or get involved that way, but she's taken it upon herself to do something she's never done before and she's spending afternoons teaching English as a second language to new refugees who've arrived here at Massachusetts. And think about the profound difference that she is having on the people that she intersects with.

And that's what I'm talking about. You have got everything it takes to not only change lives but to change the world. Let your imaginations be your only limitations. Go out and be great. Congratulations, 2017! [Applause]

Concord Academy. “MA Attorney General Maura Healey, Concord Academy Commencement Speaker 2017. YouTube video, 18:04. June 2, 2017.