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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Miami-Dade Community College Commencement

Miami-Dade Auditorium
May 3, 2008

Thank you Dr. Goonen for that kind introduction, and thank you all for your warm welcome today to the “Magic City.” 

It is a deep honor for me to be here…and I am very grateful for this opportunity. This is an extraordinary institution—and there is nothing quite like it in the .  You are the largest college in the nation…you have been judged the “best community college” in the country…your student population is the most ethnically diverse in the nation…and you provide the opportunity for some of the most promising members of our national community to pursue the American dream.

This is truly a special place…and all of you being honored today, our graduates, are also a very special group of women and men.   Almost one-third of you were employed fulltime during your course of study…and more than half of you are the very first in your families to attend college.

I know that you have all worked hard in school and jobs…you have confronted challenging circumstances…and you have overcome many obstacles to have the privilege of sitting in this auditorium this afternoon.   

I congratulate you.  Your families…your communities…your college—and everyone here today—are immensely proud of you…and we celebrate your achievements.

What you have accomplished is nothing short of heroic—so if you want to see the faces of American heroes, just look around.

You are heroes because your efforts at Miami-Dade truly matter.  In a knowledge based economy like ours, we cannot hope to meet the needs of our population…to foster innovation…or to increase prosperity…without women and men who have the necessary skills and knowledge—women and men who are prepared.  All of you have undertaken that preparation.

You are heroes because all of you—the vibrancy represented in this room—are the future hope of our national community:

After all, we are an aging society. 7,918 Americans turn 60 every day…that’s 330 every hour.  We need women and men who can replace the talent and experience that is gradually being lost.

We are also a society that is facing a shortfall in filling many of our most crucial jobs. For example, sometime in the next 10 years the supply of engineers and technical experts is likely to fall far short of the demands of industry.  is now graduating 600,000 new engineers a year—while the only 70,000.  We need women and men willing to do the necessary work—the heroic work—to fill these jobs.

And we are a society that is part of an interdependent global community—an interdependent global economy. At a time when our world is growing closer, when nations—and humanity—are less divided, we need women and men who have the necessary skills to participate, and compete, in this global economy.

 You are also heroes because, as a nation, we can’t be successful unless we fully develop all of our people—their capabilities…talents…abilities…skills…and knowledge—their promise and potential.  You now embody this dream—a very American dream—that each man and each woman in our country—in our world—will be able to fulfill their promise.

Not everyone in our nation, or in our world, has the tremendous opportunity to use or develop their talents and skills—to fulfill their promise.   Consider a few facts…

Here in the US: 

15.6 million people live in extreme poverty—with incomes below half the poverty line …and children represent more than 35 percent of those in poverty.  

While in our global community:

Three billion people live on two U.S. dollars a day—1.1 billion people live on less than one dollar a day. 

852 million people across the world suffer from chronic hunger…and 2.4 billion still don’t have access to adequate sanitation, to clean water.  All this when the United Nations has shown that—if we had the will—for the first time in history we have the capacity and resources to eliminate global poverty without any real sacrifices to ourselves.

You are heroes because our world—and its problems—desperately need your talents, skills, knowledge, and abilities.  They demand the engagement of our heroes…they demand your distinctive abilities…they demand that you bring everything that you have learned—everything that you have gained—at Miami-Dade to addressing them. 

I can think of no better place to do this than in Miami.  This is one of the world’s great national and global cities…a city that is the gateway of the north to the south, the south to the north…and a city whose vibrancy stems so much from the immigrants who have freely come from all corners of the world to call this place home…

…Without a doubt, Miami is the world…Miami es el mundo… 

All of you have had the privilege of attending Miami-Dade College…and what you do with that privilege matters. The Miami community—and the global community—need the skills and service of our heroes…of our graduates.  Today, all of you are continuing or ending a journey.  As you move on to the next stage of your journey, or onto a new one, I hope you will always remember the challenges the world presents—and the hope that you, our heroes, represent…

…And I know that the knowledge and values you’ve gained here, at Miami-Dade College, will allow you to not only succeed on your journeys—on your chosen career paths…but to discover ways to use your distinctive talents…to pursue your dreams with passion—and—most important—to engage in the world to make it a better place… 

…In other words, to continue to be heroes.

Again, you have my heartfelt congratulations on your graduation…on all that you have accomplished…and on all that—I have no doubt—you will still accomplish. Enjoy and celebrate the day.  Thank you.

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