President Clinton to Graduates: You Are in the Future Business

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–May 24, 2010.  Delivering remarks at five separate commencement ceremonies this May, President Bill Clinton reminded graduates that their participation in building a better future – not just for themselves but also for our shared world – is essential to the health, education, and stability of future generations. President Clinton asked graduates, as they enter a world that is challenged by urgent economic, social, and environmental problems, to work within the system to change find solutions to local and global issues. “Ask yourself, even when you begin and are not making much money: what can I do as a citizen to close the gaps between where we are and where we ought to be?” President Clinton advised them to ask themselves, “How can I get America into the future business?”

Speaking to graduates at Miami Dade College, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, University of West Virginia, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Yale University, President Clinton urged the graduating class of 2010 across the country to rethink their notions of good citizenship. “The interdependent world means divorce is not an option,” President Clinton told students at Miami Dade College. “You’re going to be affected by things that happen to you beyond your borders and around the corner, whether you like it or not. And if you can’t get off, you had better get on. That is the message of the 21st century.”

President Clinton’s remarks focused on the critical need to weigh every decision against “future preference,” a concept he raised during his 1992 presidential campaign and which he first became familiar with during his own undergraduate studies at Georgetown University. Based on the principal that the future should be better than the past, future preference maintains that every citizen has an obligation to work toward a better world.

One of the most effective ways to accomplish this, the President stressed, is for private citizens, business, governments, and nonprofits to work together to empower the disenfranchised populations through improved access to educational, health, and economic opportunities –an approach he championed during his administration and now through the work of his Foundation.

To make education a priority during his presidency, for example, President Clinton initiated policies that provided for the largest increase in aid to higher education since the passage of the GI Bill at the closing of WWII. Under his administration the Direct Student Loan and Hope Scholarship programs were initiated, and he engineered significant increases in Work Study and Pell Grants, paving the way for the largest ever increases in higher education enrollment rates. Through the work of his Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), President Clinton continues to work with governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to expand access to educational opportunity in the United States and around the world. Through Commitments to Action implemented by CGI members around the world, more than 10 million children have been provided access to a better education.

CGI and the Clinton Foundation work to improve education as well as to expand access to health care and economic opportunity and to preserve the environment. Young people and students have already contributed to the success of the Clinton Foundation’s mission and approach.

Through the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), in 2010, students from campuses around the world have made 1,000 Commitments to Action that will improve the lives of more than 290,000 people worldwide. President Clinton is proud of the range of programs students are implementing around the world: to build an elementary school in Haiti; provide solar lamps to impoverished villages in India; retrofit buildings on college campuses with green—energy efficient technology; and tutor high school students striving to pass their citizenship tests.

With these efforts in mind, President Clinton encouraged young people to continue after graduation to find sustainable solutions to global problems. “There is always going to be a gap between what the private sector can produce and the government can provide and in that space citizens have to take action to bridge the broken places in our society and around the world. That’s really what the nongovernmental movement is all about.” And it was the engagement of young people around the world is all about as well. “When I look out at you,” President Clinton told the graduates, “I think it would be a big mistake to bet against our future if you keep us in the future business.”