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Strive to be original, invest in others and change the world are lessons imparted to more than 1,500 Old Dominion University graduates by speakers at Saturday's 100th commencement exercises at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

ESPN SportsCenter anchor Alton J. Harris, a 1987 graduate of ODU, spoke to students from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering and Technology and Sciences in the morning ceremony. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark received an honorary degree and addressed graduates from the colleges of Business and Public Administration, Education and Health Sciences in the afternoon ceremony.

"I want you to break the cycle. I want you to strive for original thought," said Harris. "Find out what people want changed and change it. Teach someone what you know and teach and encourage them to think."

Harris urged graduates to pass on to others the knowledge they have acquired.

In a moment of levity, he told graduates to take off their robes and return to class. "Never, ever leave this campus. Real responsibility is lurking around the corner to rob you of money, sleep and freedom.

"Work is important, but so is living your life. Life is meant to be lived, not pressed like a shirt or stirred or shaken like a drink. You are supposed to live life, not be consumed by it."

Clark, the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy, told graduates to invest in others, much like the faculty invested in them, to continue to make this world a better place to be.

"You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give," he noted.

"I know also that you here today have the courage, determination and stamina to complete the course, and because of that you are being inducted into a tradition where your country, this institution, and those who support and sponsor this university, expect much of you. You are expected to make a difference."

In concluding, Clark told the graduates that service is the level of dedication the United States needs more than ever.

"There are thousands of ways to serve, but all have one element in common: a decision that you make to dedicate yourself to something bigger than yourself, and, to make your life by what you give."

This article was posted on: May 8, 2004

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