Tuesday, May 10, 2011

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Tells FAMU Graduates to Know the Pursuit of We and Us

Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduate Erin Blake said it felt like a breath of fresh air to walk across the stage during the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony on April 30 in the FAMU Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium. Blake was one of nearly 1,400 students to graduate.

“I feel that the weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I can now conquer the challenges of the real world,” said Blake, an occupational therapy graduate from Atlanta, Ga. “The speaker emphasized that there will be challenges on the road of life. The true challenge is to overcome and succeed that challenge.”

The commencement speaker was Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson. She encouraged the students to know the pursuit of “me and I” is not as important as the pursuit of “we and us.”

“I know the real world seems hard,” she told the graduates. “The people sitting here today helped you to get here. I stand here because people did not say ‘I and me.’ When we talk about struggle, we say ‘We shall overcome.’”

Jackson added that a new world of opportunity was available for the graduates.

“I am honored to be with you—marking a milestone in your lives,” she said. “A day like today, you are No. 1. You made it and you should be happy.”

FAMU President James H. Ammons presented Jackson with the President’s Award. She was also honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters.

“You remain committed to air and water quality,” said Ammons. “Florida A&M University is proud to add to your long list of accomplishments.”

University Trustee Solomon Badger asked the graduates to think back to their first day on the “Hill.” He compared the nurturing faculty, parents and environment similar to that of a cocoon.

“Spread your wings and take flight,” he said. “Your preparation and time has turned you into orange and green butterflies. Take flight and soar.”

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