Award-winning journalist urges Class of 2012 to push for change

This post was written by Hatchet news editors Matthew Kwiecinski and Kierran Petersen

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams told graduates on the National Mall that with their degrees in hand, they are on track to fix the troubled nation they inherited from previous generations.

At a time when, “we’re hearing talk about our nation we’ve never heard before,” Williams said, young people will need to fill the gaps in an uncertain global climate – a task he said the Class of 2012 is ready to tackle head on.

“You don’t actually have to build a rocket or go into space, but please take us somewhere. Please keep us moving, push us, lift us up, make us better,” Williams said.

Williams, who has covered the biggest national and international news stories for the past two decades, told students about the “army of
young people” he has met making a difference in the world, adding that the differences between two villages in Malawi – one with
running water and one without – often depend on if a group of young Americans volunteered there.

The journalist who left Brookdale Community College to attend Catholic University and later GW in 1980, said one of his greatest regrets was not graduating.

His final day of college, Williams said, came after a “particularly tough stretch.” He was stressed, running low on cash and living in a flood-prone basement apartment.

“I like to say to people that I was in a big hurry and I needed to go make a living and I never looked back. As this is the last college that I attended I can tell you, I look back every day,” Williams said.

Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, earned an honorary degree in public service and told graduates to rethink how they measure successes. The billionaire, who runs Mexico’s largest telecommunications firm, is also the founder of Latin America’s largest philanthropic institutions, the Carlos Slim Foundation and the Telmex Foundation.

During Slim’s remarks, a few hundred protesters from the human rights organization Two Countries One Voice gathered behind the stage, shouting and blowing airhorns to disrupt his speech.

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