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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.

Henry Winkler, actor / producer Loyola Marymount University, May 6, 2000

When I did the show "Happy Days," I got about 50,000 letters every week. And in that bunch of letters I would get a lot of gifts. One of the gifts I got was a metal cup, an engraving that I have on my wall that said, "If you will it, it is not a dream." I had no idea how important that phrase was to me, even before I read it on the plaque, and certainly now that I know it--if you will it, it is not a dream.

Somewhere in the last 30 years, in this country, the individual has become more important than the collective whole. As graduates it is your responsibility to be a light in this world--an example of tolerance, of caring, of mutual respect. Not merely when it is easy, but especially when it is difficult. You have phenomenal power, each and every one of you, locked inside. You must release it starting today.

But I want to leave you with two ideas. One, you have to be the most you can possibly be. You only have one chance at this life. If you don't do that thing, that gift that you've got--if you don't release it into the world, you will miss something.

Two, you have to make the most out of yourself. It's the only way you can give back to someone else. You must never forget who you are. You must never forget where you come from. And you must never forget to give back for all you've received.

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