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Nearly 1,800 students received degrees and were given words of advice by speakers Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, and R. Brooks Hanson, deputy editor for the physical sciences at Science magazine, at Old Dominion University's 106th commencement exercises Saturday at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Edelman, who spoke to more than 850 graduates of the colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering and Technology and Health Sciences at the morning ceremony, received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

She told graduates to ask "not how much can I get, but how much can I give...Service is the very purpose of life, not something you do in your spare time."

Edelman also shared lessons from her book, "The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours." Among them: there is no free lunch, set goals, take risks and assign yourself. "If you see a need, don't ask 'Why doesn't someone do something?' Ask, 'Why don't I do something?'"

She urged graduates to take family life seriously and to be careful of working just for money. Edelman noted, "Don't confuse wealth or fame with character."

Hanson told graduates at ODU's afternoon commencement that their generation "can instill the importance of science" in the political and educational processes affecting the quality of human life on Earth.

Speaking to 900 graduates of the College of Business and Public Administration, Darden College of Education and College of Sciences, he said science tells us that "we have a big change coming, and it's going to profoundly shape your generation."

For the past century, fossil fuels have been the basis of the global economy, Hanson noted. "But a change is required for two reasons. The first is simple: within the next 20 to 30 years or so, we will begin to run short of oil. The second reason is a bit more complicated, but it is now extremely well understood that the burning of those fossil fuels is warming our climate."

Video of both commencement ceremonies can be viewed at http://www.lions.odu.edu/dept/ao/ss/commencements/2007_spring/.

This article was posted on: May 5, 2007

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