June 2012, Volume 16, Number 3

COVERSTORY


Class of 2012: Follow Your Passion, Change the World

The excellence and diversity of Miami Dade College’s students impress leaders around the country and across the globe. With the nation’s largest undergraduate enrollment and largest number of both Hispanic and African-American students, the College earns praise far and wide, especially during spring commencement exercises, which have featured U.S. presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama in recent years.

This year MDC received similar kudos for the more than 13,000 graduates of the Class of 2012 when Cecilia Muñoz, director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council at the White House, kicked off commencement exercises on April 28 with a special message from the White House.

“President Obama sent me here today to be with you, and he and First Lady Obama asked me to tell you something specifically,” said Muñoz. “They believe in you, they believe in you deeply, and they asked me to come here today and share that with you.”

Speaking to graduates from MDC’s Homestead and InterAmerican campuses, Muñoz lauded the students’ remarkable commitment to community service. “I’ve been told that nearly 8,000 students and faculty from MDC contributed more than 177,000 hours of service to your community. This is part of what makes our country great.”

Muñoz encouraged students to continue serving after graduation, citing the role that service can play in shaping America’s future. “Find something, anything that you are passionate about, and that makes your community and your country a better place. Your engagement cannot stop today as you leave Miami Dade College because we have to decide what kind of country we want to be.”

Serve as an Example

The theme of continuing service was common among MDC’s roster of high-profile commencement speakers, which boasted Dr. Bernard “Bernie” Machen, president of the University of Florida; Dr. Richard N. Haass, president and CEO of the Council on Foreign Relations; Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation; and The Honorable Jennifer Carroll, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Florida. Collegewide, Miami Dade College held five commencement ceremonies for graduates earning associate and bachelor’s degrees and certificates. In addition to service, graduation speakers also touched on the importance of being an informed, global citizen, of understanding diversity and of continually adapting to meet the changing demands of the global economy.

Empower Those Less Fortunate

Lt. Gov. Carroll told graduates, “You are here today because you have been called to serve. … Helping the community enriches and empowers those less fortunate and also further strengthens our state and our nation. Never underestimate the value of your newfound education. This is your ticket to foster change.”

Machen referred to MDC’s graduating class as a “privileged group … who know our country and world.”

“You won’t have to catch up with the times,” said Machen. “The times are going to have to catch up with you. As Miamians and MDC graduates entering a world of fewer national barriers, your multiculturalism equips you to form strong bonds across countries and cultures.”

Simply Think Differently

Rodin defined the world as a “whirlwind” and offered MDC graduates one key to success: “leverage the power of innovation to overcome challenges born of our increasingly complex and fast-changing world.” She spoke about how the world has been “revolutionized by the powerful ways in which people have simply thought differently” and how innovation can take many forms. “Innovation doesn’t just take place in a lab or a particle accelerator. It’s students like you who, right now, all across America and on this very campus, are tinkering with their own dreams.”

Haass stressed the importance of lifelong intellectual development, comparing commencement not to an ending, but rather a “continuation” of a perennial process. “We will only hold our own if we continue to educate ourselves,” said Haass. “In short, top off that intellectual tank of yours as often as you can, and be sure that some of the topping off helps prepare you for the opportunities and challenges of the modern world.” 

Words of Wisdom for the Class of 2012

The Honorable Jennifer Carroll
Lieutenant Governor of the State of Florida
Medical Campus

“Miami Dade College provided opportunities to further an education that you might not have had otherwise. … [and] provided you with the energy to open doors, illuminate paths, heal the sick, overcome obstacles and enrich your lives. Go out into the world and make a difference. Make it measurable, make it count.”

Dr. Richard N. Haass
President and CEO of the Council
on Foreign Relations
North Campus and MDC West

“You have just completed the educational equivalent of filling up your tank. And that is good. … Congratulations on graduating from a great school that provided you with a wonderful education. But please keep in mind that your education has only just begun. Happy commencement. Happy continuation.”

Dr. Bernard “Bernie” Machen
President of the University of Florida
Kendall Campus

“My take-home message to you today is slow down, breathe, be in the present. … Treat time not as a race, but as a river, bearing you slowly and gently into the wide gulf of experiences and adventures that really map who you are. As MDC graduates, you are already light years ahead of your contemporaries.”

Cecilia Muñoz
Director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council
Homestead and InterAmerican campuses

“You study at a place with a school motto that says ‘opportunity changes everything’ and no one is going to prove it more than you. … From now on, you will be able to reach back and help people after you, someone your family and friends will turn to for guidance.”

Dr. Judith Rodin
President of the The Rockefeller Foundation
Wolfson and Hialeah campuses

“Class of 2012, I urge you to find that thing that inspires you. Find that thing that challenges you. Find that thing that drives you to innovate. … Because when you do, you’ll also find your true self. You’ll find your future unfolding before you. And you just might find that you can change the world.”

— NT


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Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, or genetic information. Contact the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs/ADA Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for information.