Today, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at Avon Old Farms‘ graduation ceremony. I was lucky enough to be able to attend, as my brothers are juniors at the school and my parents are heavily involved in the parent association. I can tell you one thing – AOF graduations are always impressive, but hearing Giuliani present today was an incredible occasion.
Giuliani spoke to the boys as if he were one of them. He was not there to talk politics or to push a political agenda. Rather, he came today to impart with the students of Old Farms a lesson; that leaders are made, not born. He spoke of humility, of convictions, and of the strength of love and friendship. He recounted stories of working with Reagan, and how the former president had stuck to his beliefs, no matter whether they were popular or not. Giuliani reminded the students that no leader knows it all – he has strengths and weaknesses, and he surrounds himself with people from whom he can learn. Further, a valuable person, he believes, is one who not only can identify a problem, but who can address it with a solution.
The most impressive part of the event was that Giuliani did not leave immediately after the ceremony. It’s memorial day weekend, and if the former mayor is anything like the average American, he has family to see, barbecues to attend, and a sunny afternoon to enjoy at home. However, Giuliani remained after the ceremony to smoke cigars with the graduates and to mingle with the families and teachers. My brothers were able to shake his hand and thank him, as were many other students I’m sure. His presence reminded us each that Giuliani is not supernatural – he is just like each one of us. Perhaps that is what made him even more inspiring; if he can do it, maybe I can too.
Giuliani was in Avon, Connecticut today for the Avon Old Farms Class of 2010, but his words were heard by more than just the graduating students. I know that most of us present won’t soon be forgetting this influential man who took time out of his holiday weekend to teach my brothers, their peers, and all their families about leadership and the importance of perseverance. As I continue finding out who I am and where I am going in life, I will keep his lesson close by. I know I will look to make a difference in this world, any way that I can. I doubt I will ever be involved in politics, but there are many other career options that will allow me to help the world for the better, and that dream is what I need to always reach for. One day I’ll be there, but right now, I have determination and some good advice to keep me working my hardest.