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Transcript of SFSU's May 25 Commencement


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MILLARD FULLER: And I say to you, young people, continue to join with us, to be a part of a small and growing group of people who are dedicated to peace in the world. We differ philosophically and religiously and politically, but we don't have to disagree on everything. And we don't have to hate one another. We ought to learn how to love and be accepting and realize that whatever a person thinks, that we all are made in God's image, we all get sleepy at night, and we all ought to have a decent place in which to sleep. Thank you, and God bless you.


PRES. CORRIGAN: Thank you, Dr. Fuller. Your life and your work inspire us to look around us as you have done, to seize our power to make a positive difference.

The career of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi can already be called historic. When her colleagues elected her House Democratic whip last October, she, indeed, broke new ground, becoming the first woman to hold that post of the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States Congress.


PRES. CORRIGAN: Nancy Pelosi's fellow Democrats had recognized what this region has long known, that she is a principled and effective leader keenly aware of the needs of our nation and capable of marshaling support for a wide range of progressive legislation.

During her 15 years in Congress representing a district that includes most of San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi has amassed an outstanding record of legislative accomplishments, especially on education, health care, housing, and environmental protection.

Congresswoman Pelosi has earned powerful committee assignments that place her at the center of the most critical issues our nation is facing. She is, for example, the ranking Democrat on the House permanent select committee on intelligence. And she serves as a senior member of the House appropriations committee, influencing funding of the nation's priorities, both domestic and foreign.

Her caring mind and her caring heart encompass the world. And she has fought to end human rights abuses, to ease the burden of foreign debt for developing nations, and to make family planning available to all of the poor overseas. Her life stands as powerful testimony to the value and the impact of committed public service.

It is now my great pleasure to present to you the honorable Nancy Pelosi.


HONORABLE NANCY PELOSI: Good afternoon to the great class of 2002!


HONORABLE NANCY PELOSI: President Corrigan, faculty, wasn't that a wonderful tribute that you all paid, and well-deserved, to the faculty earlier? I pay my respects to you as well.

Let's hear it again for the faculty!


HONORABLE NANCY PELOSI: Trustees of San Francisco State University, officials of the state university system, parents, grandparents, family and friends, and everyone that Peter Casey named as well, it is an honor for me to join you in celebrating the accomplishments of the nearly 7,200 graduates being awarded diplomas here today, the largest class in the University's history.

Thank you, President Corrigan, for your kind introduction certainly, but for your leadership, more importantly. During the 14 years you have guided San Francisco State University, that leadership has inspired students, faculty, and the entire San Francisco State University community.

San Francisco State has risen to great heights under your direction, and we are fortunate to have you, such a dedicated, courageous visionary, at the helm of this exceptional institution. Thank you especially for your leadership these past few weeks, which was demonstrated so eloquently by your strong statement calling for civility and decency while accepting strong and even provocative speech on hotly charged issues.

Your words rang with wisdom and clarity across the country. I'm proud to join you in speaking out for San Francisco State's true values. I am especially proud to do so as a former recipient of the President's Medal.

In honoring these people here today -- Millard Fuller whom we just heard from and were inspired about; Peter Casey, he's a riot; John Jacobs for his long dedication; Vernon Alley, a progressive jazz musician who has been part of San Francisco and San Francisco State for so long -- honor is brought to San Francisco State.

We thank them for accepting their tributes.

Graduates, as you accept your diplomas today, know that you stand on the shoulders of many: Parents, family, friends.

Let us now take a moment to acknowledge all of those who made your graduation possible today, among your family and friends, to your parents and others.


HONORABLE NANCY PELOSI: I am very grateful for the opportunity to join you today on this very special day. San Francisco State is important to me because it is an outstanding institution of academic freedom. San Francisco State University is important to our community because it has been a voice of reason and tolerance. San Francisco State is important to our state and nation because of its commitment to the community and to public service.

San Francisco State has always had a rich dialogue around issues that have been controversial. I encourage all of you, student, faculty, and administrators, to continue to be leaders in dialogue.

San Francisco, our community, is a place where we work through our differences. It is a city where it is often said the beauty is in the mix. One only need look at this class to see that fact. It is a place where we not only respect diversity; we embrace it, we take pride in it. Diversity is part of the fabric of our culture that brings us together.

I thought since you were my bosses, I work for you, those of you who live in San Francisco, I would just tell you a little story about my being selected House Democratic whip. This is historic. A woman has never risen to those heights. And I'm very grateful to the people of San Francisco for affording me the opportunity to make that run.

But what I want to tell you about is something that relates to why we're all gathered here today.

When I was elected, I was invited to go to the White House with other members of the Congressional leadership in the House and in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans alike. You would know Senator Daschle, Senator Lott, Speaker Hastert, Democratic Leader Gephardt, my counterpart, Tom DeLay, it was a group of fewer than ten of us to meet, including the president and the vice president of the United States.

As we went into the room, the door closed behind us, and the President was very gracious in his welcome and congratulations to me. As he began to discuss the agenda for the Congress, the 107th Congress, I realized that no woman had ever participated in that meeting in the history of our country. How sad.

And then just for a very, very fleeting moment, I felt that I was not alone in my chair. It felt very crowded where I was sitting. It felt as if every person who had ever helped advance the cause of women -- women to vote, Susan B. Anthony, or to advance women in politics, or women in the professions, or women to stay home and choose to exclusively focus on raising their families, or women juggling at all -- was sitting in that chair with me right then and there.

And then, for a moment, it was as if they said, these women who were sitting there with me, "At last we have a seat at the table."


HONORABLE NANCY PELOSI: My immediate reaction was: we want more. We want more. We want that table to have not only more women, but to reflect the full diversity of our great country.

And that is when we can really have cause for celebration.

As with your commencement, as you enter into the world, you will enter into a world that is vastly different than the one that existed when you entered San Francisco State just four years ago. We're all learning to live with more uncertainty, and as new generation of leaders, you will not only address new realities, you will shape them.

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Last modified May 25, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs