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Governor advises UMD graduates to ‘choose tough’

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Posted on: June 6, 2024

By LILLIAN GLAROS

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore told University of Maryland (UMD) graduates in a May 20 commencement speech to “choose tough.”

“When you choose tough, there’s never anything that you’re going to see in your life that is ever going to make you flinch,” Moore said.

Moore told the students his first “choose tough” moment happened when he was a teenager. He joined the army at 17, which, he said, prepared him for the challenges of building his family, running his business and becoming the first Black governor of the state.

Moore spoke to thousands of graduates and their family members at UMD’s SECU Stadium.

The governor said he drew on this preparation from his young life after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in Baltimore in March.

“When people asked me what kind of training helped you to respond to the unthinkable when it happened, my answer was not, ‘Well, I have a bachelor’s of arts in international relations,'” Moore said. “The answer was that I chose tough. That was my preparation.”

He emphasized that education is not about the diploma, but the journey students take as they earn their degrees — the journey that can make them tough.

“It’s the struggle of balancing coursework and a campus job. … It’s the hours you spend engaging in the biggest debates that our world is wrestling with right now,” Moore said. “It’s all the tough choices you have made.”
He spotlighted members of the Class of 2024 as examples of those who have chosen tough.

Marie Brodsky, for example, witnessed her grandfather struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic and created an organization to help older Americans deal with isolation.

Moore also spoke of Luke Kues, who created a CPR-training organization.

And he said Gustavo Lang Jr. met the challenges of balancing work, school and family as he strove to become an engineer.

At the beginning of Moore’s speech, the governor emphasized that education cannot substitute for real-world experience.

He encouraged the new graduates, surrounded by thousands of family members and friends, to reach outside of their comfort zones and work to be prepared for all that life can throw at them.

Moore told them to choose the paths others might not understand, paths that require late nights and early mornings. He urged graduates to answer the call, to be brave and forgiving, and to push in order to prevail.

“It will not be glamorous, it will not be simple, it will not give you a short-term reward,” Moore said. “If life has taught me anything, it is this: The things that are hard are the things that will last. The things that come easy to me are the things that do not matter.”

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