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Former Secretary of Labor Encourages Graduates to Create Value

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During her commencement address on Saturday, May 16, former Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao asked the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business class of 2015 to use their business degree to bring value to the world.

“You have completed a rigorous curriculum to prepare yourselves to be entrepreneurs, innovators, and job creators,” she said to a packed house in the McDonough Arena. “You will be the future drivers of wealth creation and increased standards of living for our fellow countrymen and women and, increasingly, people around the world.”

From her travels around the world, Chao said she has seen firsthand that America’s free-enterprise system’s flexibility, transparency, and accountability is admired by many other cultures. She feels that the type of principled leadership taught at Georgetown is an essential asset that will lead to the graduates’ future success.

“Many believe that helping others is the sole purview of the nonprofit sector,” added Chao, who also has led the United Way of America and the Peace Corps. “But, in reality, it’s the ultimate goal of the private, for-profit sector – creating jobs, opportunities, and improved standards of living for people and their families. As future leaders in the free enterprise system, you will have a responsibility for becoming leaders of integrity and principle who are worthy of public trust.”

She concluded by asking the graduates to remember the needs of others.

“The journey you begin today will have its ups and downs, its twists and turns,” she said. “But if you cultivate a generous and grateful heart, and keep your eye on the true goal of entrepreneurship – which is creating value for others – you will never lose your way.”

During the ceremony, Chao was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters from Georgetown University.

David A. Thomas, dean of the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, also addressed the graduates, explaining that while they came to Georgetown expecting to be certified in their degree, they actually have undergone a different process – the process of formation.

“What we are doing here at Georgetown University is not certifying, but we are forming, shaping young people who will go out and make a difference in the world,” he said. “That process has its roots in our Jesuit values and began on this Hilltop in 1789 and has been a continuous process ever since.”

He added that part of that formation is a duty to the magis, or the more.

“Having more so that we can do more for the world,” he said, adding that “the values of our Jesuit heritage is that we should ask what more we can do for the world. How can I make a difference?”

The graduating seniors also reflected on their accomplishments at Georgetown. Nicole Allain-Stockton, who will be moving to New York, said “It is an emotional day. It is a constant reminder of how special this place is.”

Andrew Banks, who will remain in Washington to work in employee benefits consulting, feels well-prepared for life beyond the Hilltop. “I’m not nervous about what is next because I feel confident Georgetown has prepared us,” he said. “We are all doing a vast array of things, but I feel that we are ready.”

Stephanie Cai, who also is moving to New York to work for a recruitment company, enjoyed Georgetown’s sense of community. “It has been awesome watching everyone grow up and getting to know all of my teachers and classmates.”