Video, audio, photos and quick transcript: Governor Hochul delivers remarks at University of Albany’s commencement ceremony

Earlier in the day, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the University of Albany’s commencement ceremony.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality format (h.264, mp4) here.

SOUND of the event is available here.

PICTURES of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.

A quick transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:

hello graduates, are we racing today or what? Oh, I can feel the energy. What an exciting day for you. And first of all, to your parents, you can finally put away the checkbooks, the money is yours. You do not have to send it to this institution. Go have a good time, go to Disney World, whatever you do after those kids are gone.

So, to parents and family members, you too have been on this journey and you have inspired your children and loved ones with a desire to better themselves. And I find it phenomenal that a third of the graduates here today are coming out of an institution for the first time. So thank you to the families for the inspiration you have given them.

President Rodriguez, yes, leadership matters. And we’re so proud to have you leading this institution as we’re on the verge of transforming the entire SUNY system into a place where people, yes, it’s finally reached its full potential and we’re going to work together.

It’s great to have the Majority Leader for the entire Senate of the country, but our own Senator Chuck Schumer, you’ll hear very soon, what leader he is too.

We also have Tom Junod who will be your speaker today, I can’t wait to hear about him. And also, our student speaker, Che-Doni Platt. Thank you everybody. And I will be brief. Here is what I have to tell you.

You were students during a pandemic, did you notice it by any chance? Alright, I just want to see if you noticed anything different for a few years there. Very few young people or anyone in the world will be able to claim what you have had to endure.

You started in the first year, life was good, you make friends, you will continue for four years, you will understand everything later. You know, party a lot, have a good time, learn something once in a while. It’s OK. But all of a sudden the world has collapsed and you are no longer in person. Where are these friends? Where is this person you are going to ask on a date? Where did they go?

And all of a sudden, you don’t have that connection with teachers and friends anymore. And it was a tremendous isolation, because you had to endure the unthinkable. But the fact is, you endured. You thrived, you survived. And I’m telling you, when you come back here, for your 50th birthday, do you know what year it’s going to be? Understanding math students.

2072. You’re gonna come back and say, can you believe what we’ve been through? But I’m telling you right now, and you don’t know it yet, it makes you stronger, more resilient. Because no matter what happens to you – and a lot of bad things happen, a lot of good things too – but no matter what happens, you’re going to say, you know what? It’s not as bad as being in college during a pandemic and I survived that.

So always use that as a touchstone for how you can handle whatever comes your way, you’re set. But also, you are blessed to have this institution behind you. Everyone in this country knows that it is one of the best public research institutes not in the state but in the whole country and uses that label. This will put you in touch with elders and others. This will get you a job, my friends. So use it as we even continue to build the reputation of our SUNY education.

I’m gonna leave you with a question, because I know you don’t want to hear from me, you want to get outta here and party. I know life is waiting for you. I understand. I understand. But here’s something I’m going to ask you. You have the gift of an education, many people don’t. And my question to you is that when you come to that meeting in 50 years, be sure to introduce yourself, ask yourself a question now that I’m going to ask you to answer that day. Has my life made a difference? Did I do anything to improve the lives of others? Did I use my degree to lift people up? Did I participate in the fights of my day? Did I stand up and fight for women’s right to self-determination over their bodies? Did I stand up and fight for it? Did you participate in this fight? Are you part of this fight today? This is happening right now. Are you part of the fight to protect Mother Nature from further assault, so it’s not just for you, but for your children one day? Are you part of this fight? Did you get up?

Have you stood up and helped people living in poverty? New people are coming to this country in search of the American dream that feels so reversed and disrespectful. Have you fought for a criminal justice system that is truly a just system? Did you fight for there to be educational opportunities for everyone, not just for you? These are just a few of the areas I call on you as New Yorkers mostly, I know some of you are from around the world and from other states but you are all New Yorkers. Yorkers in my mind. You have to stay, you have to stay. I’ll help you find a place.

I want you to be part of this family because we have so many great things to do. It is within our reach. And we have this moral responsibility to take up the torch that was passed on to us that began in the state in 1848 with women’s rights and the right to reproductive freedom. It started in New York, three years before Roe V. Wade. The right to love whomever you choose and to marry whomever you choose. This is New York, birthplace of the LGBTQ movement. The environmental movement started here. The labor movement started here. It happened here by people like you.

This is what you must answer throughout your life. Did I make a difference? Think about it now. You have no excuse, you have no excuse. And I expect that from you as governor and also the first mother to hold that position, because I know how powerful a mother’s guilt is.

So I put it on your shoulders, students. Go out and do great things. Thank you for giving me the honor of speaking to you today. Take care all of you.

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