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Commencement Remarks by Baruch College President Stan Altman


On behalf of the faculty, administration, and students of Baruch College, I offer congratulations to the talented and inspiring Class of 2010!

We are here to honor you, the 4,184 members of the graduating class of Baruch College 2010.

I feel a lot of excitement and anticipation in the air in the arena. But I think there’s a little apprehension too. I believe that some of you feel anxious about your future. I’m here to tell you not to worry. I say because I believed it is your destiny to succeed in life, however YOU define success. Looking at someone else’s life, we rarely see the struggles they have experienced. Given Bernard Baruch’s success as a businessman, statesman and philanthropist, one might never know the challenges he had to confront and disappointments he had to overcome. I do not know whether Bernard Baruch felt anxious when he graduated in 1889 from the college that would later bear his name, but I do know that he graduated without a job. When he finally found one, it was as a messenger boy on Wall Street. But one thing I am sure of, Bernard did not define himself by his job but by his dreams and aspirations for a better future. He used his job to learn about Wall Street trading and by the time he was 25, he had earned his first million dollars. I cannot guarantee you those same results. However, I do know that you all have the talent and education to succeed and, like Bernard Baruch become leaders of your community and society at large. And, like Bernard I know that you will find that material wealth is not an end in itself but a means to making a positive difference in the lives of your loved ones and others less fortunate than you.

As you leave Baruch College, please be open to new experiences. Life is not predictable and it is this very quality that makes it exciting and joyful. I am not saying that this unpredictability makes life easy but it certainly makes it interesting by providing opportunities one can not image. I say this from my own experience – one year ago at the commencement of the class of 2009 I sat on this platform celebrating commencement and looking forward to my summer vacation. Little did I know that one year later I would be standing on this platform as President of Baruch College presiding at your graduation. I urge you to approach life, and all it has to offer you open to learning from your successes and disappointments. Use these lessons to advance your career and to make your life and the world a better place. Use your experiences, good and bad, to position yourself for success.

As you mature, you will recognize that there is a natural rhythm to life that reveals itself in the seasons. This season of spring, is a time of birth and so it’s fitting that it is the time of commencement. This day marks the birth of a new stage of your life. Strive to figure out who you are and find and nurture your core essence. As Daniel Pink says in his book “Drive,” “The secret to high performance and satisfaction –- at work, at school, at home –- is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

Discover your purpose in life and see that your legacy is ultimately the contributions you make improving the lives of others. Because I have come to know so many of you, I am sure that as Bernard Baruch did, you will fulfill your social responsibility to advance society. Our most precious gift is our ability to choose. So will you live a life defined by “private gain or public good?” Choose wisely and experience the joy that comes with helping others.

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