Acumen Fund’s Jacqueline Novogratz encourages grads to reject the status quo

Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, spoke to 617 graduates May 20 at Gettysburg College’s 177th Commencement Exercises, encouraging them to reject the status quo, make a difference and inspire hope in today’s cynical world. Acumen Fund is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty.

“There will be moments in your life when you have to make those hard decisions that can come only from listening to the deepest part of you. And you will certainly have those moments if you decide to venture out and do something few have done before. Especially if you reject the status quo -- and I sincerely hope that you do. Indeed, regardless of where you work and what you end up doing, I urge you to reject complacency, to push away trite assumptions and petty ideologies which eat away at the human spirit. I urge you to live out loud,” said Novogratz.

She also encouraged the graduating class to be resilient, noting that success often comes after many failures. Watch it.

Jacqueline NovogratzShe continued, “That journey of change and of self-discovery comes with the high risk of falling flat on your face. Repeatedly. I have fallen down and gotten up more times than you can say. But as that American philosopher John Wayne once said, ‘Life is getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.’”

President Janet Morgan Riggs, a 1977 graduate of the College, echoed Novogratz’s message in her charge and parting words to the Class of 2012. Watch it.

“What has touched me most is your idealism in a world that is full of skeptics and nay-sayers. And your willingness to step out of your comfort zones, to be adventurous in a world that has become cautious and guarded in the shadow of 9-11. You are bucking the trends, and that inspires me. So my charge to you is to hold on to that spirit you have carried with you as a class these four years. Continue to buck the trends with your idealism and your willingness to step into an uncomfortable space. The challenges this world faces are large -- but they can be solved by those who believe they can be solved, and by those who are willing to take some risks. They can be solved by you and by people like you,” Riggs said.

Student speaker David Tekle, a member of the Class of 2012, reflected on the great work already accomplished by his classmates, including victory on the playing field, participation in service and campus activities, and success in the classroom. Watch it.

Tekle concluded, “Alone, all of these things are just that, things. But as a whole, all together, they are the Gettysburg Experience. Gettysburg College has prepared us on so many levels to move forward and grow as people. Even though you might feel a little embarrassed admitting you are Gettysburg Great -- Class of 2012, that is who we are, and we will be Gettysburg Great in the future.”

In addition to Novogratz receiving a Doctor of Public Service, an honorary degree will also be presented to Karl Mattson, former Gettysburg College Chaplain and founder of the Center for Public Service. He will receive a Doctor of Divinity.

Suzanne J. Flynn, professor and chair of the English department, received the Gettysburg College Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Additional coverage of the 2012 Commencement Exercises.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Sun, 20 May 2012

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