Graduates urged to find own way

Towson University conferring 2,800 degrees in three days of ceremonies


The student speaker quoted from Dr. Seuss, while the congressman borrowed from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Winston Churchill. But political science major Jeremy Horine and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin brought the same message to hundreds of new graduates at Towson University yesterday: Be your own person and embrace other cultures.

"Your path is yours alone, to envision, to create and to follow," Cardin, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, told the graduates of the university's College of Liberal Arts. He urged them to "place your uniquely individual fingerprint on an ever-changing world."

Horine, wearing a black robe and yellow sash, recalled moving into his dorm room as a freshman. The young man with shoulder-length hair and a Grateful Dead shirt was taken aback when he confronted a roommate who was wearing an Abercrombie and Fitch shirt and a neatly cropped haircut.

The new roommates spent hours talking about everything from music to politics, Horine recalled, but found that they had nothing in common. "A train wreck" waiting to happen, Horine said he was thinking.

"Four years later, I still live with John," said Horine -- now with a neater hair style -- explaining the importance of not judging by appearance.

Horine, who said he will pursue a career in environmental law, had earned laughter and applause from the audience yesterday when he began his speech with a Dr. Seuss quote that he said taught him more about life than anything from Aristotle or Locke.

The quote: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own."

The ceremony at the Towson Center was part of a series of commencements for the school's various colleges that began yesterday and continues through tomorrow.

Today, the College of Business and Economics will hold a ceremony at which South Korean businessman Sae Joo Chang is scheduled to speak, and the College of Health Professions will hold its own ceremony. In all, 2,308 baccalaureate degrees and 505 master's degrees will be conferred.

During his address, Cardin emphasized the importance of protecting the oppressed. He recalled encountering a group of Lutherans during a trip to East Germany in 1987.

"I could not understand their reluctance to talk until one man warned me that government authorities were taping everything we said," the Baltimore County Democrat said. "I realized then how important it is for us as Americans to speak for those who are voiceless."

Cardin went on, "America's finest moments have come when we have stood up for the rights of the disenfranchised. ... But we don't always act with the urgency that the situation demands."

Cardin, whose mother and wife are Towson alumnae, used as examples the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

"We must never forget the incomprehensible delays as our brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast waited for aid" after the hurricane last year, he said.

Cardin urged the graduates to participate in public service, which he said can take forms other than elective office. He said graduates could design alternative fuel sources "to lead the country to energy independence," master foreign languages to "broker a global treaty," or design legislation to make college education affordable to all.


College commencements scheduled for today:

The Johns Hopkins University: 9:15 a.m. at Homewood Field on the campus, 3400 N. Charles St. Nearly 6,000 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees will be conferred. Keynote speakers will be William R. Brody, president of the university, and Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health.

UMBC: 1 p.m., 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. A total of 1,200 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be awarded. Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience, pharmacology and psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, will deliver the commencement address.

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