Letter from President H. Patrick Swygert
Dear Graduates of 2003:
Please accept my heartfelt congratulations as you complete this defining
milestone in your lives.
Whether you have earned an undergraduate, graduate, or professional
degree, this is perhaps your most significant accomplishment to date.
The knowledge that you have completed such a worthwhile task allows you
now to envision endless possibilities and to look ahead to many more
daunting terrains that you can and will conquer.
For many of you, this was no easy goal to realize. Irrespective of your
talents and the intellectual prowess that you brought to your work, I
know that quite often, the challenges of organizing yourself to cope
with a rigorous course load was complicated by financial hardships,
worry about families left at home, and anxieties over what opportunities
will be available to you after graduation. Through it all, you remained
steadfast, inspired by the knowledge that you were doing the right
Now, as you receive your degrees and the blessings of loved ones and
Alma Mater, I know your own joy is multiplied. I know you are basking in
the satisfaction that you have surmounted the worst challenges with
grace and earned the right to graduate from student to valued alumni.
I cannot promise you that everything will be smooth from now on. In all
likelihood, it will become more difficult in many ways. You are leaving
the sacred space of Alma Mater where nothing about you was ever taken
for granted; where you were valued and nurtured by a community of people
bonded by shared legacy and common hopes for a brighter tomorrow
regardless of race, gender, color, or creed. You will find that outside
the gates of Howard, the world is not always as generous, nor is life as
predictable as your college experience has been.
Nonetheless, I have every confidence that just as you have overcome
numerous hurdles to be where you are now, you will find your way through
the challenges that you will encounter in the months and years ahead.
Indeed, our history is steeped in a tradition of confronting
difficulties with vision and boldness even when it meant great personal
sacrifice. Throughout your years at Howard, you have heard countless
invocation of the names and ideals of those who have gone before—those
who we call on when our own spirits are sagging and the ground under our
feet seem far less firm than we would like it to be. They were and are
the thinkers, teachers, researchers, lawyers, judges, engineers,
architects, healthcare professional, public servants, entrepreneurs,
critics, and activists who have had positive and lasting impact on our
society. As a Howard alumni, you will become a part of that elite club.
I urge you to see your graduation this year as the beginning, rather
than the end of a journey. And as you continue on, keep alive the spirit
of Howard University and the special experience that you and others
before have cherished so deeply. Keep alive too your love for Alma Mater
and the knowledge that you are part of a great heritage.
Return with honor.
I give you my very best wishes for your every success.
H. Patrick Swygert