Remarks to the Spring Class of 2024

President Bloomberg at podium during Spring 2024 CommencementPresident Bloomberg addressed the graduating spring Class of 2024 on May 12, 2024 in the Wolstein Center. Her remarks appear below as prepared for the morning and afternoon ceremonies.

Graduates, congratulations to each of you! Today is the culmination of years of hard work — and you deserve every bit of celebration and congratulations heaped on you today.

I love graduation day on campus! I just keep thinking of all the critical moments where you made decisions that led to you being here today. At some point, you made the decision that your education was a priority and that college was the right path for you. 

To get here today, you also chose to make sacrifices that really are required to be a successful college student. And at some point, you discovered your passion or your dream job, and you committed to pursuing it. Maybe some of you didn’t know exactly what you wanted, but you followed your instinct, sought the advice of trusted advisors, and pointed yourself in a direction. You ventured forth until you found a path. You should be very proud of yourselves for doing that.

As your President, every day I try to walk through some part of campus, which gives me the wonderful opportunity to talk with students. And in those encounters, I get to learn a bit about you. I learn some of your stories and what brought you here. I am impressed each time at the unique circumstances and the personal goals that propel you forward.  

I know that you are here to chase a dream, build a better future for yourself and your family, to make your community a better place.  

In a little bit, you will each cross this stage, and something very important will happen: We will announce your name loud and clear for everyone to hear. You will hear your name, and we will all know you — we will know by hearing your name — that you are a graduate of CSU.

A friend of mine recently told me that, the whole time she was growing up, her father would remind her that she had two things that no one could ever take away from her: her education and her name. “You know, Jennifer,” he would say, “it’s your choice what you want to do with that name. Are you going to make a good name for yourself or a bad name?” 

That resonated with me because in both instances — our education and our (good) name — we are given choices: what are we going to do to educate and prepare ourselves for what we want to do and be in the world; and what are we going to do to so that, when people invoke our name, we are proud of it? You have made a choice to advance your education. You also have the choice of whether or not to build and sustain a good name for yourself. I’m not talking about being famous. I’m talking about the people in your world who matter most to you and to your future — what do they think of when they hear your name?

A couple weeks ago, I was reflecting on this when two unrelated events happened: first, a group of young adults were filmed partying on a luxury speedboat off the coast of Florida and emptying two large and completely full cans of garbage — mostly beer cans — into the ocean. This was no mistake; it was intentional, and they seemed proud of it. They waved and pranced around for a drone camera — and for all the world — to see. The camera footage appeared on the local news, and then the national news and international news. There was a huge outcry and a recurring demand for specific information about the people on the boat: Who are these people? What are their names?  

That same day, I attended a pre-commencement celebration for our graduating students who are a part of TRIO — a program to support low-income and first-generation students. It was a powerful evening — filled with inspiration, determination, and joy. The students and families I met and the stories of accomplishment and dedication to community that I heard that evening filled me with pride and hopefulness. When students’ names were called, I felt pride, joy and admiration. Those individuals are making quite a name for themselves. 

It was also a powerful juxtaposition with the story I had just seen.

Your name and your education: You own them both. What are you going to do with them?

You know, graduates, each year at some point in the beginning of our commencement comments, either the Provost or I take a moment to encourage you to extend a round of applause or a show of thanks to all the people — family, friends, advisors, faculty members — who have helped you to get to this place in your lives. That’s a really good thing to do!

Lately, I’ve also been thinking about how I’d like to, on behalf of all of us who come to work at CSU, thank you:

  • you are why many of us have dedicated our lives to higher education.
  • your determination to succeed fuels our determination to support you.
  • your dedication to this community deepens our dedication to your wellbeing.
  • your name is now forever attached to our name:  Cleveland State University — and that makes me proud everyday.

Thank you for being a part of this community.