By Edward N. Hamilton, Jr., Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters
May 19, 2013
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addressing the 2013 graduation class at Centre's 190th
Commencement. "Be a leader and make some giant footprints
on the road less traveled," he says.
Hamilton receiving an honorary degree after delivering
remarks at the 2013 Commencement ceremony on
Sunday, May 19.
I want to take this opportunity to thank President Roush, faculty, and staff of Centre College for this honor that has been bestowed upon me today. It is a blessing to be recognized for the work that you do, and to be honored in our great Commonwealth of Kentucky is even more special. My roots lie deep in the richness of our state. I thank my family for their support in all that I have accomplished. My life has been blessed in so many ways, and I know that I stand on the shoulders of many who have enabled me to realize my dreams.
One thing in this life that I believe, it is hard to reach your highest potential without the help of others. We can’t do it alone; it’s those who touch you in so many different ways that helps to define who you are as a person. Ultimately, one must have faith and a belief in one’s self. I’m reminded of that statement that Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” It can also be like a candy cane, which has a lot of twists and turns. As I look out over this audience of graduates, I wonder if most of you are ready for all of the twist and turns that life has to offer. I wish I had all the answers of a fortuneteller so that I could tell you that all of you would find great jobs and live happily ever after. But life lies deeper than that. There is much to do once you are pushed out into the real world, and believe me life can get very complicated.
I know that Centre College has given you the spirit to challenge the status quo; the desire to make a difference; the ambition to help right the wrongs that we see each and every day; the energy to help bridge the cultural divide; and the strength to understand that it’s okay to be different. We live in a global world and we have to think on a global basis. What affects us in this state can have effects across continents. So, be fearless and steadfast in what you want to do when you are out in the world. You can work anywhere for a short period of time and mark it down in your life and on your resume as work experience. All of these experiences lead to something. You have your degree. Be a leader and make some giant footprints on the road less traveled.
As I close, I think it is up to each and every one of us to take responsibility for our own destiny. College has allowed you to be the very best that you can be, and now it’s up to you to take charge of your life and make an impact on our society. I have a poem that speaks to you about being responsible for your life. The poem by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) is titled “Invictus.” It is a favorite of mine, and I would like to share it with you. It goes like this:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall fine me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
I congratulate all of you, your families and friends, and peace be with you all. Enjoy life to the fullest.
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Centre College, founded in 1819, is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Danville, Ky. Centre hosted its second Vice Presidential Debate on 10.11.12, and remains the smallest college in the smallest town ever to host a general election debate. For more, click here.