PULLMAN, Wash. — Today’s graduates must become advocates for better global education and awareness, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell told Washington State University graduates and their families today (May 11).
Cantwell was one of three speakers offering advice to nearly 2,000 graduates who participated in WSU’s 106th annual spring commencement ceremonies at the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.
Calling the challenge of this year’s graduates similar to that of the World World II generation, Cantwell said graduates must combat hatred toward the United States with education about “the freedoms that have been the foundation of this country.
“Your generation must commit to fighting the new war on terrorism and the threats to our freedoms with a new investment in spreading American ideas and values throughout the world,” she said.
The only constant in today’s workforce is change, said Cantwell, who helped build a successful software company and later worked to protect privacy and the technology industry while in Congress. She said the graduates will find success in the information age by cultivating a commitment to life-long learning.
“And you – the class of 2002 – have been given the very tool that you need to succeed in this world: a first-rate education in a robust, changing world where what matters most is your ability to change and adapt,” Cantwell said.
Cantwell addressed the ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts at 11:30 a.m. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C., spoke at the 8 a.m. ceremony for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, College of Engineering and Architecture, College of Pharmacy, College of Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine. Robert C. Bates, WSU provost, was the guest speaker for the 3 p.m. ceremony for the College of Business and Economics, College of Education and College of Nursing.
Pinstrup-Andersen told graduates that technology and advancing globalization make it increasingly important for Americans to be concerned about the welfare of people throughout the world.
“Be socially conscious and active,” he said. “Participate in the debates and decisions about matters that affect people and societies. Put your newfound knowledge and your analytical capabilities to work for a more enlightened debate and more informed decisions, including political decisions. Speak up about what action you believe is needed to improve the lives of the people who are less privileged than us.”
It’s a message Pinstrup-Andersen has acted on in his own life. He received the 2001 World Food Prize for his contributions to improve agricultural research, food policy and the lives of the poor. For three decades, he has conducted vital research on nutrition policy and economics of technological change. His life’s work has been devoted to helping those most afflicted by poverty and severe malnutrition gain access to food.
“Poverty, hunger and perceived lack of social justice generate hopelessness and anger,” he said. “Angry people with nothing to lose can easily fall prey to fanatics and others who wish to do us harm. As illustrated by the atrocities of Sept. 11, that anger can be directed towards us — the perceived rich. As it becomes more globalized, a world where so few have so much and so many have so little will not be a stable world.”
Bates, a WSU alumnus, recounted to graduates how an influential professor from WSU helped stimulate his academic career and life, and how he in turn was able to influence one of his own students.
“Think of that – little things happen every day and you never know when you touch a life if it will have a lasting effect or important impact,” he said. “When you look at it from that standpoint, every single day is important. What if people lived only one day? How important would a single action be?
“In this new century we have an incredible opportunity for effecting societal change and improvement, and most of all, a critical responsibility to our fellow men and women,” Bates said.
Nearly 1,730 undergraduates, 125 master’s and 77 doctoral candidates participated in the ceremonies, according to the WSU Registrar’s Office.
All three ceremonies are available on the Internet for those who could not attend.A commencement link at the top of the WSU home page, site www.wsu.edu, will direct visitors to a videostreaming site. The direct link to view the archived versions of commencement is http://experience.wsu.edu.