Farewell to Grads Excerpts from Commencement Speeches Reflect News and Views of the Year

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Family issues Barbara Bush, first lady of the United States, Wellesley College (Mass.):

For several years, you've had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work. This is true, but as important as your obligations as a doctor, lawyer, or business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections - with spouses, with children, with friends - are the most important investments you will ever make.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent. Elizabeth Dole, US secretary of labor, Emory University (Ga.):

I well remember my first day at Harvard Law School. There were 500 members of the class of 1965, and only 24 were women. A male student came up to me and asked what I was doing there. In what can only be described as tones of moral outrage, he said "Don't you realize that there are men who would give their right arm to be in this law school - men who would use their legal education?" ...

That man is now a senior partner in one of Washington's most prestigious law firms. And ever so often, I share this little story around town. You'd be amazed at the number of my male classmates who've called me to say, "Please tell me I'm not the one! Tell me I didn't say that, Elizabeth."

Well, we have come a long way since then, though we women have not reached the millennium. But, today, over 40 percent of the Harvard Law School class is female. The number of women professionals - lawyers and doctors, for instance, has almost doubled since 1972. And the number of women in managerial positions has almost tripled. ... And in record numbers, men and women alike are searching for jobs which make work and family compatible, and not conflicting goals. Cokie Roberts, broadcast journalist, Bryn Mawr College (Pa.):

Life is long. You'll have lots of opportunities, lots of different things to do and you don't have to do them all at once. You can, you just don't sleep very much. I've never played any sports so that saves a lot of time.

It's also true that you don't have to take the perfect job at just that moment if it's the wrong thing for your family. I'm living proof of that. I've said no to lots of jobs. It's still worked out fine. You really have to take the long view. Kathleen Turner, actress, Emerson College (Mass.):

I am a feminist, and I'm proud of it! ... To be a feminist one may assume all kinds of roles, but one doesn't have to be a radical, or a "career woman," or even a woman for that matter. To be a feminist, one has only to esteem women equally with men;...

Global Change Yuri V. Dubinin, Soviet, ambassador, George Washington University (D.C.):

Your class of 1990 is starting out in life in a unique world, which is changing rapidly, as never before.

Perhaps, a Soviet Ambassador has more reason to say that, since in my country a week and sometimes a day brings changes which otherwise would have taken years....

As to relations between the Soviet Union and the United States, they have become a proving ground for innovative approaches to world affairs. Over the years our best political minds thought of ways to deceive or defeat the enemy. Now we are learning to think about each other not as adversaries but as partners. …