As the days finally begin to heat up, you won’t hear this native Floridian complaining! On the contrary: Though I don’t have days like this often, I relish the time when the campus is in full bloom, the days a little sunnier and the pace a little slower. It’s days like these that allow me to take a deep breath, relax into the hazier, lazier days of summer and reflect on the school year just passed while gearing up for the new one around the corner.

Back from flying to and fro across the country to talk about Sea Power, I found myself walking the campus and reflecting on our recent Commencement weekend. This year, 178 Fletcher students graduated and we welcomed NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel, on campus to address the Class of 2017 during this year’s Class Day ceremony.

In case you weren’t able to join us, you can read the article (linked above) and (re)watch Richard’s speech to the assembled students, friends, family, faculty and staff here:

Dr. Lisabeth Tarlow, F84, F97

While Engel urged our graduates to “be the good news” and to “work hard to preserve human rights and freedom of the press around the world,” our own Board Member, Lis Tarlow, whom I went to Fletcher with back in the early ‘80s, was on campus to give the alumna address. In her infinite wisdom, Lis gave us this little nugget, which reminds me to have hope and feel optimistic about what we’re doing here at Fletcher, and the role that we can play in today’s turbulent times:

“With its multidisciplinary approach, you have all received truly one of the best international relations educations in the world. Fletcher teaches students to be nimble, to be flexible and to look at problems from a variety of perspectives.” 

Finally, if you were unable to be here for our actual Commencement Ceremony, I would highly encourage reading this write up of the festivities. It captures the energy, tone and enthusiasm of our student speakers, honored professors and graduates on this all-important day.

Tanay Tatum, Fletcher MALD ’17

It also featured a quote from MALD graduate, Tanay Tatum, in which – to my way of thinking – she summed up the promise of our Fletcher grads perfectly: “You all get it. You get that ‘special Fletcher sauce’ that understands that failed policies in Syria result in immigration issues in Europe. And that the global and U.S. economies are stronger with NAFTA. And that all national politics and global policies start locally. […] We owe it to the uninsured, the unemployed, the refugees, the ‘Treyvons’. We can fight back, work hard, organize to make a difference. For every Brexit and Trump, there is a Merkel and Macron.”

Reflecting on those words as I walked around campus, I got to thinking — when you’ve got students as tuned-in, aware, optimistic and driven as this, you know you’re a part of something genuinely special. And that, along with the sunshine filtering through the trees, is something to truly smile about.


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