Senator Cowan to Business Graduates: Value Self Worth over Net Worth

May 18, 2013

Remember to enhance self-worth in the pursuit of net worth. This was the advice Massachusetts Senator William “Mo” Cowan shared with the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business senior class during his commencement remarks Saturday, May 18. [Watch the video.]

“While you are at that daunting point of starting a career, setting out on your own, and taking responsibility for your own expenses, I ask that amid the dollar signs you search for those intangible things that will make you valued members of society,” he said to the 297 graduates and their families and friends assembled on Healy Lawn. “To find the solution, you must seek equilibrium – the sweet spot – the perfect balance between your net worth and your self-worth.”

The senator distinguished between the pursuit of knowledge, which the students experienced during their studies at Georgetown, and the life-long pursuit of wisdom.

“Wisdom and knowledge are confused often but knowledge without wisdom means little and is of little use,” he said. “You have spent nearly every day before today letting knowledge come to you.  Now, armed with the knowledge from this great Jesuit institution, you are primed to spend the rest of your days acquiring wisdom in the pursuit of your self-worth.” 

Cowan shared how his search for wisdom led him to understand the importance of increasing one’s self-worth. In tangent with his successful law career, he sought out opportunities to volunteer and serve on nonprofit boards. He eventually gave up his pursuit of net worth at his law firm to the full-time pursuit of self-worth by working for the Governor of Massachusetts and currently as his appointee to the U.S. Senate.

Just as he was faced with a decision to choose net worth or self-worth, Cowan believes the students will encounter their own personal choices.

“It will be up to each of you to choose how you will enhance your own self-worth, but I’d argue that a proven path is by applying your knowledge daily in the pursuit of wisdom,” he said. “And a good way to acquire wisdom is through investing your time and talent – treasure will come later, trust me – in giving back to a society that has given you tremendous opportunity already.”

Georgetown McDonough Dean David Thomas echoed these sentiments in his remarks to the seniors.

“You leave with a special obligation – to advance the fundamental idea of Georgetown,” he said. “A university founded on Jesuit principles, men and women for others, the asking of more so that we can do more for the world.”

Many graduates are leaving the Hilltop with that sense of obligation. Quinton Eusebio of the Philippines, who will join Citigroup after graduation, sees his newfound alumni status as the turning point of knowledge and the pursuit of wisdom.  

“Today is a very special occasion. Not only does it mark the culmination of our Georgetown journey, it marks our entrance into the world,” he said. “This is a good day because it begins a journey in which we can give back and in which we can apply the skills we’ve used to benefit the world.”