Early Commencement Highlights: Tar Heel basketball helps Bloomberg advise new grads

Posted on May 13, 2012 in Campus and Community

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid homage to Carolina basketball in his Commencement remarks, offering advice for the new graduates by spelling out the familiar cheer, “Tar – Heel.”

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 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid homage to Carolina basketball in his Commencement remarks, offering advice for the new graduates by spelling out the familiar cheer, “Tar – Heel.”

Bloomberg, who founded the global financial news and information service bearing his name, summarized his message:

Teamwork is everything. Assist others. Risks are necessary. Hustle, always. Elbows occasionally have to be used. Education is a lifelong journey. Love what you do.

“And if you put that list together, it of course spells “Tar – Heel,” Bloomberg said.

The 108th mayor of America’s largest city told the graduates they didn’t need a grand plan to make their way into the world.

“Whatever plan you do have is probably going to change 100 times before you’re 30. And you don’t need to be an expert in something to try it. So what, then, do you need? I’m going to tell you, but really, all I’m going to do is remind you of a few things you’ve already learned here – just by watching Carolina basketball.”

That led to more detailed advice – which drew from Bloomberg’s experiences in college, on Wall Street, as a philanthropist, and as a public servant – pegged to spelling out “Tar – Heel.”

Bloomberg was the featured speaker in Kenan Stadium, where Chancellor Holden Thorp presided and UNC awarded five honorary degrees, including an doctor of laws to Bloomberg and a doctor of music to saxophonist Branford Marsalis. An estimated 5,683 undergraduate, graduate and professional students received degrees during Commencement weekend, which included a hooding ceremony for doctoral students.

Bloomberg told the graduates they earned their degrees “at one of the country’s finest institutions. Only a lack of education can hold you back in America – and today, you’ve cleared that bar.”

The technology revolution that is reshaping how people understand the world, and the freedom that the graduates have to pursue their dreams, are complementary, he said. “They reinforce each other. The more we learn, the freer we will be. And the freer we are, the more we will learn.”

Bloomberg also used Carolina’s motto, “Lux Libertas – Light and Liberty” as a key theme in his remarks.

“That, I believe, will be the defining spirit of the 21st Century. The more light we shed on the nature of the world, the more we advance knowledge in science and technology, the more liberty we will spread,” he said.

Technology will be the world’s most powerful weapon in fighting poverty, disease, repression and intolerance, Bloomberg said.

“Because where there is light, liberty grows,” he said. “And where there is liberty, light flows. Now, it’s up to all of you – in your own way – to take what you have learned here, and spread light and liberty wherever you go.”

In his charge to the graduates, Thorp said Carolina’s newest alumni would make that real world better. “You have the knowledge, energy and experience to take us where we need to go.”

Sunday morning’s crowd was among the largest – estimated at about 32,000 graduates, family and friends – in recent years. The traditional sea of Carolina blue academic gowns revealed an enthusiastic section of students, some with balloons and even one with a Ficus tree. And there was one marriage proposal among the students, complete with a sign proclaiming “She said yes.”

Read Michael Bloomberg’s Commencement Speech

Watch Michael Bloomberg's Commencement Speech

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