Letter to 2007 Graduates from
President H. Patrick Swygert

Congratulations on attaining this wonderful milestone in your lives.

Regardless of the degree that you have earned-- undergraduate, graduate, or professional--this is perhaps your most significant accomplishment to date and you should be justly proud that your hard work, commitment, and personal sacrifice have paid off so well. Please take a moment to bask in your accomplishment even as you look to endless possibilities and more daunting terrains yet to be conquered.

It is especially important to savor your success because I know that for many of you, the challenges of coping with a rigorous course load were often complicated by financial hardships, worry about loved ones left at home, and anxieties over what opportunities will be available to you after graduation. Nonetheless, you remained steadfast and as a result, you are able to celebrate today. You fully deserve every accolade showered on you by friends, relatives, professors and other supporters who have cheered you on along the way.

Now, as you leave the sacred grounds of Alma Mater, I cannot promise you that the road ahead will be smooth all the way. Conversely, I do believe life will become more challenging in many ways as you exchange your old routine for life in the outside world—a life that is far less predictable and in far less comfortable environs. Fortunately, as your graduation proves today, you are imbued with the character and the necessary life skills to navigate your way through whatever you will encounter in the months and years ahead. And, I have no doubt that you too will be willing ambassadors to our finest traditions of confronting difficulties with vision and boldness even when it meant great personal sacrifice

As a student, you heard often enough the countless invocation of the names 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 like. Icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Kwame Toure, Ralph J. Bunche, Patricia Roberts Harris, and others of their ilk, demonstrated that obstacles of all kinds can be overcome with diligence, dedication, and dignity. Please be true to their ideals, and Howard’s, even as you bid goodbye.

Again, keep alive the spirit of Howard University, the special experience that you and others before have cherished so deeply, and the knowledge that you are part of a great heritage.

Return with honor.

H. Patrick Swygert