Summer 1999 Emory Magazine
"May we here today be exhilarated"
By SHARLA A. PAUL
For those Emory graduates who are about to enter the workaday world, the outlook is brighter than it has been in decades, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich told 3,156 degree recipients at the University's 154th Commencement.
The difference, Reich said, is that the marketplace is shifting toward a "knowledge economy."
"We stand at a rare moment in history when we are preeminent in the world," he said. "No place on earth offers greater opportunity, wider choice, more freedom to forge your life's work. . . . I want to assure you, you can pretty much do whatever you want to. I urge you to give it a try."
Reich also emphasized the importance of a different type of knowledge--self-knowledge--and wisdom (or "know-why") over know-how.
"You hear a lot of people talking about life-long learning these days, and the new economy certainly does require that you keep up," he said. "In order to make wise choices about your life's work, you're going to need to know something of who you are and what you'll need to [become who] you want to be. . . . Go forth and use the tools you have been given here to gather as much knowledge as you can. Make the world better, too, if you can. . . . Most importantly, be as wise as you can be. Learn to know yourself, and be true to the very best in what you find there."
President William M. Chace concluded the ceremony with the conferring of the degrees, saying, "The rhythm of this ceremony thus reminds us that to be human is to teach. It's one of the oldest human skills. Loving parents have taught; they are here today to bear witness to their love. Skilled professors have taught; their students shine today. And now the world, with all its novel, exquisite, and painful challenges, stands ready to carry on the great adventure of teaching you in which Emory University has been glad to take its part. May these students be prepared, may the world be merciful, may we here today be exhilarated."
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