Secretary of State John Kerry told graduates of Boston College to “set the world aflame,” during the commencement speech he delivered at the school’s graduation ceremony Monday, May 19. Kerry is a graduate of Boston College Law School.
Kerry, who served the Commonwealth on Capitol Hill for 28 years as a U.S. senator, spoke of keeping faith in God, confronting climate change, and spreading the Jesuit value of “service to others” at the 138th commencement at BC’s Alumni Stadium.
He began his speech by saying that after serving in the Vietnam War and questioning his faith, he found a renewed sense of compassion when he entered BC’s law school.
“I saw some of my closest friends killed, things that will haunt you for the rest of your life,” Kerry said. “The compassion at BC made me feel welcome and helped me learn how to think critically and ask the right questions.”
Kerry then spoke about graduates cultivating the Jesuit spirit of service by caring about global social and environmental issues in places like the Middle East, Ukraine and South Sudan.
He reminded the audience that issues like climate change can be solved with energy policy and good citizenship, asking, “If we address this challenge and we’re wrong, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Greater security and energy independence?”
Kerry also had a few more lighthearted moments.
He mentioned the importance of overcoming rivalries to form a sense of community, referencing modern feuds like “Alec Baldwin versus the NYPD,” “Beyonce’s sister versus Jay-Z,” and “the Red Sox versus the Yankees.”
Kerry closed the commencement speech by asking students to fulfill the responsibility that comes with receiving a world-class education by spreading knowledge.
“Pass on your light to others,” Kerry said. “Set the world aflame with your service.”