John Bryant Commencement Speaker at CUNY Queens College | Operation HOPE Blog.
I will write more about this over the weekend, once I have had more time to really sit back and reflect, but this college — Queens College, part of CUNY, truly is a special place. I was honored to not only give the Commencement Address before thousands yesterday, but to receive their highest award, the Queens College President's Award. More on this later.
Queens College is a model for higher education in America, with half of their students non-U.S. born, diversity coming from every direction, a very high graduation rate, a high quality of educational excellence, and a very low tuition cost basis ($5,000 annual tuition for every student, and zero if you make below $80,000 and live in New York!). They view education, rightly so, not as a debt for students to incur, but an investment in the future of society, business and American excellence, which everyone benefits from.
The college believes that leaders should serve, and they embed this virtue, also, into everything they do. Andrew Goodwin attended Queens College, and it was from Queens College, over a summer break, like this one, that he and two others ventured into the southern states on the Freedom Rides, to help Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and my mentor and personal hero Ambassador Andrew Young advance the civil rights movement.
Andrew Goodwin and his two friends lost their lives that summer, but as I told the graduates and their families yesterday, he lives on, in the hearts, minds and the DNA of a college community, today. I was also honored to recently receive the Andrew Goodman Award, from the Andrew Goodwin Foundation in New York City.
Needless to say, I was deeply touched to be asked to speak, and I will be returning to the campus sometime in the future, with an extended message of hope, and silver rights empowerment, for all.