There is nothing wrong with pursuing a career that pays well, “but work toward a life of meaning,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) urged members of the Walt Whitman High School Class of 2015.
“Meaning finds its truest expression in service to others,” he told 454 graduating seniors, more than 90 percent of whom will attend college in the fall. The commencement exercises were held June 2 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington.
Cardin delivered a 12-minute speech to the Bethesda high school students in which he stressed the importance of public service.
“Remember your responsibility and dedicate yourself to the greater cause,” Cardin said. He urged the teenagers to vote, pointing out that of the 13 million members of the millennial generation eligible to vote in the next election, “unfortunately,” seven million will not bother.
Acknowledging the high cost of college tuition, Cardin told the members of what U.S. News & World Report called the best high school in Maryland that regardless of what path they follow, they should also help those less fortunate than themselves and work to solve the country’s problems.
Citing a long list of society’s ills, Cardin declared, “your generation can” bring down college costs, deal with climate change, promote peace in the Middle East, work for social justice “in places like Baltimore,” cure diseases and create great works of art.
“I know you are up to the task.”
The graduates and their generation might have an easier time working with people who think differently than they do because they “put up with parents, teachers and siblings who don’t quite understand your priorities,” Cardin said. He called that a skill that often eludes members of the Senate.
College “is about acquiring the skills to help you reach your full potential,” but he urged students to take time to listen to a symphony orchestra, read a poem and appreciate a work of art.
“Go in with your eyes wide open.”
Aaron Dane, one of three members of the Class of 2015 to address the hall filled with students, parents, teachers and administrators, likened his classmates’ futures to a cup of coffee from Starbucks. “Don’t brew by the book,” he said. “The world is our cup. If we are going to spend $5 on a venti, let’s make sure it’s fulfilling.”
And classmate Hannah Tatem urged her classmates, “Be loud. Be rowdy. Let’s be fearless, even if we can’t always control the future.”