Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough addressed Lesley’s undergraduates at 2013 Commencement
Saturday, May 18, 2013
David McCullough, a prolific author and historian who has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, encouraged Lesley graduates to keep learning, to study history, and to read and re-read books. “We're here to celebrate commencement. Commencement means beginning,” said McCullough, who won the National Book Award twice, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. As a biographer, McCullough said he has gotten to know his subjects very well, from John Adams to Harry Truman, but he not only learns about them, he learns knowledge from them. “History teaches us to evaluate character,” McCullough said. “History is an aid to navigation in difficult times. Harry Truman said the only new thing in the world is the history you don’t know. “How can we say we love our country and take no interest in our country’s story?” he posed. “I want to urge you, particularly you of the Lesley Class of 2013, to read. Read, read, read! Some of the best and most influential books in your lives are ahead of you.” McCullough advised graduates that curiosity and hard work will fuel successful and fulfilling lives. “Work hard at whatever you do,” he said. “Enjoy the work. Enjoy every day, the present day, and remember that you’re learning more than you realize every day just from life. Cultivate and build your innate ability to have curiosity.” McCullough assured graduates that, despite what many may say, there is cause for optimism in this country, and he urged graduates to hold politicians and leaders accountable and fight corruption. “Optimism may not seem in style or very cool, but I am extremely optimistic because all you have to do is know some history, and you know there’s very good reason for optimism,” he said. “(In America) there is more freedom, more true equality than there has ever been in my lifetime, and I’m almost 80 years old. Keep it going. Keep the trend going.”
Graham Nash, introduced by Art Institute of Boston faculty member Christoper James with a heartfelt "Rock on!," began by congratulating the graduates and the Art Institute of Boston, which has been "making art important in people's lives" for over 100 years. When he was growing up in a coastal town of England, many of his friends' parents wanted their children to work in the mine or the mill. His, Nash said, "encouraged me to become a musician, because they knew that was where my heart was." Honor your parents. Of his, he said: "In the words of a minor composer, 'they taught me well.'" "Teachers are here to encourage you," the interdisciplinary artist and activist went on. "Open your hearts and minds to the possibility of your future. Give yourself a voice. We all have a voice, and we have a responsibility to use that voice."He was reminded that on May 17, 1963, 50 years ago, his first band, The Hollies, released their first single. He exhorted graduates to be aware of the passage of time. "Time is our only currency. You have to use it well.""Art is your life. You have to make every single thing you do art. Whether it's making a cup of tea or patting a child, you have to make it art." Even the richest people alive can't buy one second of time." Use your time wisely, he said. "I don't give advice, but if I was asked," he said, eliciting smiles from the audience, "you have to find your passion. You have to find something that fills your heart with joy, makes you wake up every morning with a smile. You have to find your passion."And with that, Nash went on to demonstrate one of the many products of his time wisely spent and his own particular passion: he sang the song that has encouraged and inspired generations who have heard it, both new converts and ardent fans, and that begins:"You, you along the roadMust have a code that you can live by,And so become yourself,Because the past is just a good bye...."Teach Your Children," by Graham Nash
Students in Lesley’s College of Liberal Art and Professional Studies and the Art Institute of Boston processed to their chairs, led by Faculty Marshals professors Liza Folman, Linda Brion-Meisels and Susan Merrifield. After a welcome by Board of Trustees Chair Deborah Schwartz Raizes and remarks by President Joseph Moore, honorary and bachelor’s degrees were presented.President Moore noted that the spring semester was marked first by the Blizzard of 2013 in February, and then in April by the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent search for the bombing suspects that called for Cambridge residents, including Lesley students, to "shelter in place." Moore observed that the Class of 2013 has witnessed a lot and learned a lot.“You know we learn some things the hard way, but we don’t need to be defined by those hard ways,” Moore said. “We rebound, we recover, and we in some ways discover a deeper and broader human spirit.”Student Danielle Kelly delivered the student address for The Art Institute of Boston. Today, after four years of college, she said, the rules change. No more A for effort. We are reminded, she said, that "effort starts with an E, as does enthusiasm and elbow grease." She encouraged her fellow graduates to "apply for that grant or residency, move to that far away place....don't sit back and wait for something to happen."Bryan Klickstein, who gave the student address for the College of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, said he and fellow graduates live in a world in which technology often circumvents interpersonal communication.
"Let us use technology to assist us, but let us not forget that what makes us special is not the next great thing but the ability to connect meaningfully with each other,” said Klickstein. “Our graduating class faces a litany of challenges. They’re not impossible, but they’ll have to be solved by real people and real human collaboration.”Graduates of Lesley’s Graduate School of Education and the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences received their degrees in an earlier ceremony.
David McCullough was born in Pittsburgh in 1933 and was educated at Yale, where he graduated with honors in English literature. He has been an editor, essayist, teacher, lecturer and familiar presence on public television. His is also the narrator’s voice in the movie “Seabiscuit.”is an avid reader, traveler, painter and speaker who has lectured throughout the country – including at the White House – and abroad. His awards include the Francis Parkman Prize, the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, and the National Humanities Medal. His most recent book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” is a New York Times bestseller, and his biography of John Adams, published in 2001, is hailed as one of the most widely read American biographies of all time.Graham Nash is one of music’s most legendary singer-songwriters and vocal harmonists, Graham Nash is a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning group Crosby, Stills & Nash, as well as The Hollies. Among the classic songs he composed for the band are “Teach Your Children” and “Our House.” Nash was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009. A photographer and digital imaging pioneer, Nash established Nash Editions in 1990, recognized by the Smithsonian for its role in the invention of digital fine art printing. His passionate voice continues to be heard in support of peace, and social and environmental justice. Nash was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 2010. He is currently writing his memoir, which will be
released by Crown/Random House in the fall of 2013.
See more photos from the undergraduate Commencement ceremony.
Watch a firsthand view of Lesley Commencement from the grad cam on a student's mortarboard.
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