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Commencement Keynote Speakers Urged Miami Dade College Graduates to Be Heroes, Seize Opportunity and Strive to Make the World a Better Place

Keynote Speaker

Miami, May 8, 2008 - U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's message to more than 1,100 Miami Dade College (MDC) North Campus graduates was clear: diversity makes this country strong. Pelosi, the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, was among several national and world leaders who delivered keynote addresses at seven commencement ceremonies for nearly 9,000 MDC graduates on May 3.  

“As you go forward with this degree, know that you have not only achieved something great for yourself and for your family, but you have made America stronger,” Pelosi said in her parting words at the James L. Knight Center.

This year’s college commencement speakers also included U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, El Salvador’s President Elias Antonio Saca, Georgetown University President Dr. John J. DeGioia, Royal Caribbean Cruises Chair Richard Fain, Liliam M. Lopez of the South Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Bill Diggs of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce.

They join a list of renowned MDC commencement speakers that includes President George W. Bush, former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and retired U.S. Florida Senator Bob Graham, among many others.

For many students, such as Lance McGibbon, MDC North Campus Student Government Association president, graduation marked the beginning of a new and exciting chapter. McGibbon rallied his peers with a moving graduation speech.

“As graduates, our journey has just begun. Today we are celebrities, tomorrow we will be heroes to the world,” he said.  

The sentiment echoed across town at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium where DeGioia addressed InterAmerican Campus graduates. MDC presented DeGioia, Pelosi and Saca with Honorary Bachelor of Science in education degrees.  

“Today, you are all beginning the next stage of your lives,” DeGioia said. “I invite you to engage in this world, make it a better place, and continue to be heroes.”

At the Kendall Campus, the country’s highest-ranking education official commended students for taking advantage of the opportunity that education provides. Spellings also noted the importance of higher learning by indicating 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs require education beyond high school.

With accomplishment comes great responsibility that extends beyond personal fulfillment was President Saca’s message to Wolfson Campus graduates. Saca is credited with helping turn El Salvador into one of the fastest-growing economies in the hemisphere.

“The power is in your hands,” he added. “You are a generation with much to correct, much to protect.”

Pelosi mentioned a number of MDC alumni, including U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who have gone on to become passionate public servants. 

“I hope some of you will keep the tradition of public service going,” she added. 

Commencement is also the culmination of hard work and perseverance. Throughout MDC’s graduation ceremonies, it was an opportunity for graduates to recognize family, friends and loved ones who helped them achieve an education. 
Carol Emmanuel was present at the Medical Center Campus ceremony to see her friend Tabitha Glinton graduate from the medical technologies program. Emmanuel spoke candidly about how exciting and emotionally charged graduation ceremonies are.

“It’s tough to attend graduations,” she exclaimed. “They always make me cry.”

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist

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