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GW Commencement 2011: Michael Bloomberg

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Published on May 17, 2011

With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, speakers at GW's Commencement ceremony this morning told graduates to continue their dedication to making the world a better place, to advocate for those in need and to take chances.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the Commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Public Service from the university before an estimated 25,000 graduates, friends and family members.

In his address, Mr. Bloomberg said it must be a "bittersweet day" for students leaving GW.

"It just won't be easy to leave a place where you can rub a hippo's nose, break-dance with Big George, sit in Einstein's lap, pet a dog named Ruffles, and buy a hot dog from a guy named Manouch," he said. "I can see why you love it here."

Mr. Bloomberg spoke about Sept. 11 and its place in history. He called for more bipartisanship in politics, reminding the graduates of the unity that developed in New York and around the world in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Recognizing the GW student body's commitment to public service and the members of the military in the audience, Mr. Bloomberg asked the graduates to continue fighting for the rights of all people.

"Even if it is not popular—especially when it is not popular—we have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of people to express themselves as they wish, to worship how and where they wish, and to love who they wish," he said.

Mr. Bloomberg recognized GW students Todd Belok and Michael Komo for their efforts fighting for a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "The freer we are to express ourselves as individuals, the stronger we become as a nation," he said.

He also counseled graduates to not "play it safe" and urged them to take risks.

"Wherever you're going next, there will be new rules to master and new frontiers to conquer," he said. "And my advice is relatively simple: Continue learning. Continue asking difficult questions. Continue thinking independently. Continue volunteering your time to help others. Continue defending and enjoying the freedoms that make America great."

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