Updated: May 27
Someone asked me what I would say in a commencement speech in these Days of Pandemia. Here's what my speech would be like. Dear graduates: First of all, congratulations. You made it. You should feel proud of yourselves and thankful of your parents, your teachers and all who supported you in reaching this goal. I want to assure you that all your efforts were worth it. I know it's a drag not to have a traditional ceremony with cap and gown, surrounded by all your fellow graduates, your instructors and your families. But believe me, this is not the worst disappointment you'll encounter now that you will go on with your lives. I know a bit about life. I've lived a long one and I've had disappointments. But you know what? They've been overshadowed by joy, by a sense of achievement, by loving and being loved. Much of my life is now in my rear view mirror, but I still look forward to a lot more road to travel and I know I will have an abundance of wonder, laughter and happiness. That's my definition of success. Years ago, I was asked to give a commencement speech at a university. I felt very honored, but I really didn't know why they chose me and I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to say. I told this to the head of public relations at the university and, to my surprise, she told me that a lot of the students and the faculty followed and admired my work as a journalist. She recommended that in my speech I should just pretend to talk to my 21 year old self and share with that young Ricardo what I had learned in life. That commencement speech went well. So, I will do the same thing now. I'll pretend I'm one of you on this momentous day.
Here's what life taught me: It's imperative to be honest, truthful, idealistic, caring, decent, grateful, supportive, tolerant and forgiving. The people I've admired the most, have always had those qualities. They include many famous people I've met as a journalist having travelled to over 50 countries, as well as family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and everyday people I've encountered all over the world. Goodness counts. It should be practiced for its own sake, but it does have its rewards. Someone will always recognize the good in you and that will be a high honor bestowed on you. Accept it always with humility. Life also taught me to be hopeful, to be of good humor and to fight for truth and justice, but always first in my own heart. It also taught me that education doesn't end with a graduation ceremony. Never stop being curious, never stop reading, never stop learning. Life itself is a wise and generous teacher. There are many definitions of success, including, fame, wealth and power. They are not necessarily unworthy goals, but they elude most of us. Yet we are all capable of achieving a life of honor and goodness and that's also a definition of true success, This is a great moment in your lives. There will be other significant moments. But now comes the time to seek your dreams, whatever they may be. Never renounce them. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you and to my 21 year old self.