Commencement Speeches
10:42 am
Mon May 19, 2014

John Kerry Delivers Class Day Address at Yale

Kerry called on students to avoid a feeling of gridlock.

Secretary of State John Kerry was in New Haven Sunday to address Yale University graduates. Kerry delivered the Class Day lecture.

Kerry contrasted the pace of progress the 1960s, when he was a student at Yale, with today. Back then, he said, change may have taken years to play out, but institutions responded to what he called “the felt needs” of the time.

"Today," Kerry said, "the felt needs are growing at a faster pace than ever before, piling up on top of each other, while the response in legislatures or foreign capitals seems non-existent, or frozen." 

Kerry said people seem to have grown used to systems or institutions failing to respond to important issues. He pointed to a lack of transportation infrastructure, the outdated U.S. energy grid, and climate change.

Secretary of State John Kerry delivering a commencement speech at Yale University.
Secretary of State John Kerry delivering a commencement speech at Yale University.
Credit Yale University

"It's really a question of will power, not capacity," Kerry said. "It’s a matter of refusing to fall prey to the cynicism and apathy that have always been the mortal enemies of progress. It requires keeping faith with the ability of institutions of America to do big things when the moment demands it. Remember what Nelson Mandela said when confronted by pessimism in the long march to freedom: ‘It always seems impossible until it is done.'"

Kerry called on students to avoid a feeling of gridlock, and use their college educations to make a difference.

Commencements Around Connecticut

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will be in Connecticut this week. He'll deliver the keynote address during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's Commencement on Wednesday. 

Actor Ed Asner gave the Southern Connecticut State University undergraduate commencement address Friday. The event took place at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. 

Commencement ceremonies for the School of Arts and Sciences at Quinnipiac University were delayed, then moved indoors this weekend, after the school received a bomb threat. Police later arrested a 22-year-old woman who they say made the call to try and have commencement ceremonies canceled so her family wouldn't know she wasn't graduating.

Danielle Shea of Quincy, Massachusetts, is being held on  bond after confessing. Hamden Police said Shea didn't attend Quinnipiac this year, but her mother paid thousands of dollars that she thought was for her daughter's education. They said that when graduation arrived, Shea panicked when relatives didn't see her name on the graduation roster.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.