Dennis P. Lockhart had a simple message for the approximately 1,620 students eligible to receive degrees at UGA’s Summer Commencement Aug. 6 in Stegeman Coliseum.
Lockhart, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, gave the graduates the same advice he gave his daughter when she graduated: Be your own unique self, don’t abandon your dreams and passions and have an attitude toward work.
“Life is going to test those dreams and passions. Stay true to your own dream,” he said. “Some dreams may have to adjust to the world.
“Improve what you touch,” he added. “There are no boring jobs if you set out to improve whatever you touch.”
He encouraged the graduates to live an interesting life, not to do what everyone else does and to take risks. He joked about entering the financial sector in 2007 just in time to “usher in the worst financial crisis in post-war history.”
But Lockhart’s 12-minute speech focused on inspiring the graduates on the “happy occasion,” not the current financial crisis. “I’ve observed over my career that there’s a tendency to speak fast and use big words in the early years to prove that you’re smart. And later in life, you speak slowly and in simple words, hoping that everyone thinks that you’re wise,” he said.
At the combined graduate and undergraduate ceremony, 849 students were eligible to receive bachelor’s degrees and 771 graduate students were eligible to walk across the stage and receive a doctoral, master’s or specialist in education degree.
“Summer Commencement exercises really do exhibit an uncanny level of commitment on the part of young people,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams at the ceremony. He then applauded their work in completing courses and turning in theses and dissertations.