Nancy Pelosi delivered the following commencement address at Miami Dade University on Friday, May 3, 2008.
Thank you for that kind introduction, Chairman Helen Aguirre Ferre.
I would also like to acknowledge President Eduardo Padrón and President Dr. Jose Vicente.
I come to Miami Dade College, North Campus, today as Speaker of the House, bringing greetings from the United States Congress, and the hopes of the nation.
In the House of Representatives, we count three of your proud alumnae as our colleagues: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman John Mica, and the Representative of this district and a rising star in the Congress, Congressman Kendrick Meek.
Today, I salute you and the many people who helped make your success possible: your parents, spouses, children, friends, and of course, the outstanding faculty and staff here at Miami Dade College, North Campus.
We also salute our brave men and women in uniform. I know in the Class of 2008 there are many who have patriotically served in our Armed Forces. You ensure that America will always be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It was in that spirit that more than 230 years ago, our Founding Fathers declared our independence, won a war against the greatest military power of the time, and wrote a constitution making us the freest people in the history of the world.
On the Great Seal of the United States, which is found on the dollar bill, they included these words in Latin: “novus ordo seclorum”—“a new order for the centuries.”
Imagine their vision. They were certain of the success of our new nation, not just for years, or for decades, but for centuries.
Their confidence sprang from the idea that every generation has the responsibility to make the future better for the next.
This is called the American Dream.
In establishing a new order, our founders created America to be a just and good place, a fair and efficient society, and a source of hope and opportunity for all.
For those reasons, for all of our history, people have flocked to our shores to seek the American dream.
For some of you, your journey to this moment began outside this country.
You understand that for those who struggle against oppression, America is a beacon of freedom … for those who aspire to a better life, America gives hope for opportunity.
Each successive generation of immigrants has made America more American. With hope, courage, and optimism, they pursue the American dream—to make the future better for themselves and their children.
Central to a better future is education.
Higher education is the best investment parents can make in their children, individuals can make in themselves, and a nation can make in its future.
I know that many of you have earned this degree while balancing work and raising your families—to make the future better for your children.
I come before you today as Speaker, but the role I am most proud of is mother to my five children, and grandmother to my seven grandchildren.
When I was changing diapers, packing lunches, and checking homework, I never imagined I would run for Congress, or become the first woman Speaker of the House.
But when those opportunities presented themselves, I was ready for them.
Always be open to and ready for new opportunities that present themselves to you. Prepare for the possibilities the future holds for you.
Follow your passion.
My passion has always been my children and all children. My passion for public service comes from seeing my work in Congress as an extension of my role as a mother … to make America better for every child, especially the one in five children in America who lives in poverty.
That is why in the opening of the new Congress, I called the House into order on behalf of all of America’s children.
Today, you will graduate with an education that will help you heal the sick, make America safer, and our economy stronger.
For many of you, these are your passions—follow them—you never know where they may lead.
Finally, you must have faith in the future.
With your graduation today, you can go forth with confidence that you have received an education from Miami Dade College that will serve you well in reaching your highest aspirations.
You can go forth with faith in yourself, faith in our nation, and faith in the future.
As you go forth with this degree, know that you have not only achieved something great for yourself and your family, you have made America stronger.
I know you will use your education to continue to make the future better for your generation and for the next generations. You are the American dream.
As I receive this Honorary Degree today with great pride, it creates a special bond between us. So, my classmates, remember that you have a friend in the Speaker’s office.
May God bless you! May God bless America!”
Photo source: Matthew Bradley  on flickr (cc)