The Class of 2012 might be entering a tough economy and an uncertain world, but the two speakers at Quinnipiac University's 81st Commencement ceremonies encouraged graduates to aim high and persevere to achieve success.
"Dream big, worthy dreams, and don't get discouraged by rejection," said Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO and founder of Blackstone, the world's largest alternative asset manager. He delivered the commencement address at the first of two ceremonies held May 20 on the University Quadrangle.
Schwarzman addressed graduates in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business. Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, delivered the address at an afternoon ceremony for graduates in the Schools of Communications, Health Sciences and Nursing.
Quinnipiac awarded a total of 1,410 degrees, the University's largest graduating class. It included the School of Nursing's first graduates.
Quinnipiac also awarded honorary degrees to Schwarzman, Brinker and Dick Robinson, founder and chairman of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and president of the Robinson Media Group.
In a speech laced with humor and advice from his own career climb, Schwarzman encouraged graduates to aim for high goals. "If we had aimed low and succeeded, we would have missed our moment," said Schwarzman, who aimed to raise $1 billion in capital and now has a company that manages $190 billion. "Success at an easily attainable goal is really a failure to set a high enough one."
Schwarzman also advised the graduates to continue to learn and ask questions; to start an enterprise such as a charity or business; to maintain their confidence; and to avoid settling for a job they don't want, even in this tough job market. "Your work, if you intend to be successful at it, becomes a major part of your life," he explained. "Don't let it choose you; you have to choose it."
Brinker shared her own experiences and the obstacles she faced building the largest network of breast cancer survivors and activists.
"Difficulties are a sign that you're on a path of consequence," she said. Her passion to find a cure for breast cancer began as a promise to her sister who lost her life to the deadly disease.
Congratulations to the following Portland graduates:
Carrie A. Dickinson, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Jaclyn A. Ellsworth, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Andrew E. Keser, Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Digital Design; Katie A. Kobylarz, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Sarah E. Lapin, Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Samantha M. Realejo, Bachelor of Science in Health and Science Studies.