Tom Brokaw Addresses HPU’s Class of 2015

Tom Brokaw HPU 2015

HIGH POINT, N.C., May 9, 2015 – Tom Brokaw sent High Point University graduates into the world on Saturday with reflections from a previous generation – the one he calls the Greatest Generation – and the call to be a new generation that sees past race, gender and superficial lines that divide.

“Be the generation that sees a friend or a stranger for who they are and not just for the color of their skin,” Brokaw said to the nearly 1,000 graduates at HPU. “We can never completely fulfill the promise of this treasured republic if we are blinded by color.”

Named one of the top Commencement speakers of 2015 by the Huffington Post, Brokaw addressed more than 10,000 parents, family members and friends who filled the Roberts Hall lawn. He shared wisdom from his career as a respected journalist and spoke of interviewing war veterans, his dark days of battling cancer, and even proclaimed that gender equality would be the most important achievement of the century.

“I believe that at the beginning of this century, we launched a great crusade that will end with the 21st century historians looking back and saying, of all the accomplishments and changes, nothing was as important as gender equality,” Brokaw said. “The 21st century will be remembered as the century of women.”

He noted that the Class of 2015 is part of a generation that is the best educated generation in global history. That makes them unique and also presents new responsibilities.

“We must all take a role in exporting the American ideals and culture and the American dream. I hope that each of you would dedicate a part of your life to the idea that American citizenship goes beyond our own selfish purposes. It is a privilege and an obligation and an opportunity not to be taken for granted. It is hard earned.”

Top highlights from Brokaw’s speech include:

  • “The Greatest Generation gave you the world that you inherited today. You are the beneficiaries of their values and their legacy.”
  • “This nation was founded on the principals of self-evident truth, the very big idea that we are born with certain unalienable rights that are available to all, not just to those with the right last name or those who happen to be on the winning side in a great war.”
  • “Big ideas have always defined America.”
  • “The 21st century will be remembered as the century of women.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to be disruptive; find new ways to do the conventional and the useful; and don’t run from big and bold challenges.”
  • “Find people of common values, hope they respond and know that you have common ideals that have nothing to do with the nature of your last name, the pigmentation of your skin, or your political beliefs.”
  • “The American dream is whole and will survive if every day we each individually and collectively make a commitment to you.”
  • “No other country in the world is graduating as many people in higher education as the United States in the history of mankind. You graduates are the best educated generation this country has ever produced, which makes you unique in global history. For that you should be proud, but you know you have obligations that come with that as well.”

Other unique HPU Commencement highlights:

  • HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein addressed graduates at a senior send-off, titled “Onward with Faithful Courage,” on May 8. He told graduates at the event, “The issue is not whether or not you will succeed. You will succeed. The issue is to make sure that in that set of goals, in the list of objectives that you believe collectively and cumulatively define your success, you understand that success unframed with significance is a pedestrian way to define life.”
  • High Point University recognized the lifetime achievements of Ron Wanek, founder of Ashley Furniture, and his countless contributions to business and philanthropy with an honorary doctorate at the ceremony.

Qubein says about Wanek: “Ron Wanek exemplifies the promise of the American dream. His distinguished career in the furniture industry has been earned through hard work and determination coupled with his belief in free enterprise and service to humankind. It is for these reasons that High Point University will bestow upon him an honorary doctorate of business administration.”

  • As is tradition at HPU, a bald eagle soared over the graduates at the end of the ceremony to symbolize the ideals of free enterprise, independence and the ability to pursue new opportunities in America.
  • In honor of Mother’s Day, on May 10, HPU graduates received a blanket after the ceremony to give to their mothers.
  • Numerous Class of 2015 graduates are headed to full-time careers or graduate and professional schools in an array of fields. Companies where seniors will be working include Edward Jones, Lincoln Financial, Jackson Spalding, PwC, Lenovo, Phillips Collection, FDA, CBS Interactive, Marriott International, Teach for America, Charlotte Hornets, Dell and many more. Graduate schools include Yale, Howard Law, Wake Forest, University of Colorado, North Carolina State University, etc.

About Tom Brokaw:

Brokaw has spent his entire journalism career with NBC News beginning in 1966 in the Los Angeles bureau, where he covered Ronald Reagan’s first run for public office, the rise of the 1960s counter culture, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign.

From Los Angeles, Brokaw went to Washington as the White House correspondent during Watergate and as the principal backup for John Chancellor as anchor of “NBC Nightly News.” His next stop was “TODAY” in New York, followed by his appointment as anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.”

He took over “Meet the Press” for the 2008 campaign when his close friend and colleague Tim Russert died.

In addition to his daily news gathering responsibilities, Brokaw reported on more than 30 documentaries covering subjects ranging from AIDS, Los Angeles gangs, race, education, medicine, immigration and global warming.

He has an impressive list of firsts, including the first interview with Mikhail Gorbachev; the first network report on human rights abuses in Tibet, accompanied by an exclusive interview with the Dali Lama; and the only American network anchor to report from Berlin the night the Berlin Wall came down.

In 1998 Brokaw published his first book, “The Greatest Generation,” one of the most popular non-fiction books of the 20th century. He followed that with five other books, including “BOOM! Voices Of The Sixties” and most recently his memoir, “A Lucky Life Interrupted.” He is also a popular essayist for publications ranging from The New York Times to Rolling Stone and a wide assortment of other periodicals and newspapers. He can be heard weekdays on his daily radio segment, “An American Story,” on Clear Channel radio stations nationwide addressing a wide range of topics – from newsworthy current events to historic figures to notable moments in history – which impact the lives of Americans today.


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