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'Good Luck Out There, Kids! You Will Need It!'

May 31, 2000

As college students don their caps and gowns in a ritual to signal their transition into the "real world," commencement speakers try to offer up a few pearls of wisdom. Some deliver an unabashed pep talk; others vainly attempt to peer into the future. A few talk about personal experiences and try to divine a life's lesson. Most try to persuade students to cling to their youthful dreams while they get whiplashed by life's hard realities. Here are a few excerpts.

Madeleine Albright secretary of state University of California, Berkeley, May 10, 2000

The Class of 2000 will leave this university with great gifts embodied by the diplomas you have earned, and the knowledge, skills and character you have developed. The richness of these treasures is best demonstrated by their diversity.

For in years to come, some of you will lift lives through your capacity to teach; others will save lives through your ability to heal.

Some will create opportunity through enterprise or enrich public life through accomplishments in science and law.

Some will nurture, others entertain.

But as world events reflect, we remain far from mastering the art of human relations. We have invented no technology that will guide us to the destinations that matter most.

After two world wars, the Holocaust, multiple genocides and countless conflicts, we must ask how long it will be before we are able to rise above the national, racial and gender distinctions that divide us and embrace the common humanity that binds us.

The answer depends not on the stars or some mysterious forces of history; it depends on the choices that you and I and all of us make.

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