W. Russell Ramsey, B.B.A. ’81
GW Board of Trustees Chairman
GW Commencement on the National Mall
May 17, 2009
Good morning and welcome. Welcome on behalf of the members of the University community who are some of your biggest fans, our trustees. May I also ask the trustees who have joined us here today to rise and be welcomed by the audience.
I am also very pleased and honored to welcome our honorary degree recipients. Thank you for being with us today.
Today I am honored to represent the University as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. But I am equally proud to represent GW as an alumnus of this great University. I can still remember my own graduation from GW. I had so many hopes and expectations, and I have found, and I hope you will too, that GW more than prepared me for the challenges to come; and the friendships and connections I built here have lasted a lifetime, and I hope yours will, too.
For me, GW is truly a lifelong and worldwide community. Staying involved and connected is key. So I hope that after you leave you will come back and share your accomplishments, your research, your expertise, and even encourage your sons and daughters to come back here as well.
Today, as you embark on a new future, know that what you have learned here at GW will transcend the years you spent here. What you are and will be was shaped at this great institution. We are proud of you, as I know you will always be proud to say: I am a graduate of the George Washington University.
Congratulations to you all.
I'd like to talk to you for a moment, not only as chairman, but as a fellow graduate. I earned my degree from The George Washington University in 1981. Twenty-seven years later, I'm still talking about the experience of being a student here. I can honestly say the chance to go to GW changed my life, and my GW education helped bring me to where I am today.
As you know, graduation can be an occasion for reflection, so let me invite you to reflect today on a couple of things. When I was sitting where you are 27 years ago, all I knew was that I had myself, my inner beliefs, and what I thought would give me a ticket to as good a life as possible. The one message you have to know is that you must believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself I can assure you that you've had the benefit of one of the world's great cities, you've had the benefit of one of the world's great administrations, and you've had the caring of people throughout the University who really want to see you go out and make your mark in life. Wherever you go in that first job, in that first new school, in that first new home, make sure you know one thing: Whatever you want to do, you can do. If you're willing to outwork the competition and if you're willing to get there early to stay late, you can do whatever you want to do in life.
Look around here today and know that the GW community is thinking about you, we at the Board of Trustees care about you, and we hope to see you coming back for years with smiles on your faces and with accomplishments. We also hope to see many of you back here with sons and daughters and granddaughters.
I'd like to finally say that in your early life, in your mid-life, GW needs you. We need you to give us your time. Whatever city, whatever country you're in, we need you to stay connected. We are serious when we say GW, a lifelong community. We truly are a lifelong community.