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Giuliani to Graduates: Use Your Education to Help Lead America PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Contact David Tisdale, 601.266.4499   

New York City’s mayor refused to wallow in despair as his city was attacked by terrorists on Sept 11, 2001.

Saturday, Rudolph Giuliani shared with University of Southern Mississippi graduates during the university’s Centennial Celebration Commencement some of the principles he believed helped him lead the city to recovery from the worst domestic attack on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor.

Those principles – devotion to a set of strong ideas and beliefs, optimism, courage, relentless preparation, teamwork and good communication skills – are what he urged graduates to adopt to help keep America great.

“We share this belief that this is a special country and we’re lucky to be a part of it. Please tell me where there is any place better that human beings have created,” said Giuliani in his commencement address.

“We need young people who have the benefit of a great education like you have (to lead us). We have to have you lead. You can’t just sit back and follow other people. Otherwise, this (education) was all wasted.”

Southern Miss President Martha Saunders welcomed approximately 1,600 graduates, their families and friends and the event’s distinguished guests, which included U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds and several members of the IHL Board, among others.

“Commencements at Southern Miss are wonderful occasions, because we celebrate the achievements of our students, and recognize the contributions that parents and other relatives and friends have made to the education of our graduates,” Saunders said.

“Today is an especially exciting day for Southern Miss because we are not only celebrating the graduation of our students, but we are celebrating our centennial,” she said. “Much has been accomplished at Southern Miss in its first 100 years, and the future holds so many exciting opportunities for us as we emerge as the premier research institution for the Gulf South.”

Giuliani joined the graduates as an alumnus of the university prior to his commencement address when he was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, only the sixth recipient of the distinction. Among the former mayor's other honors are being named Time magazine's “Person of the Year” in 2001 and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Freedom Award. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

New Yorkers and South Mississippians have much in common, Giuliani said, including having come through the terrible catastrophes of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina even stronger because of their resiliency and a firm belief in God and America. “You can’t have any stronger set of beliefs than those two sets of beliefs,” he said.

Southern Miss graduate Louis Harris of Moss Point, who received a bachelor’s degree in computer science, was inspired by Giuliani’s speech. “I really liked what he had to say about optimism being one of the important qualities of good leadership,” he said.   


Jason Hobert of Byram, Miss., who graduated with a master’s degree in music theory, said Giuliani connected with his audience in pointing out the commonalities between New Yorkers and Mississippians in meeting challenges that present great tests of human perseverance.

“It was good to have a commencement speaker who could relate to the things we’ve gone through (with Katrina) because of his experience with the 9/11 tragedy,” Hobert said.

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at
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