Senator Murkowski addresses Alaska's graduating class of 2020

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 3:50 PM AKDT
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Senator Lisa Murkowski addressed Alaska's graduating class of 2020 through a live stream Friday afternoon.

Along with congratulating the senior class, she acknowledged the teachers, administration and parents who had to become educators overnight after schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murkowski relayed a message to the class about using their versatility to their advantage.

"As young people, you have an adaptability, a flexibility, that older people like me, kind of stuck in my ways and my way of doing things, may lack, so take advantage of that," Senator Murkowski said. "Many of you have an ease and a comfort with the technology that is allowing us to stay connected and to move forward in a COVID world. It is your turn to be the teachers and I am confident in your ability to lead us. "

The Senator continued, "Yours is not a traditional graduation. Perhaps that is why it has been so hard for me to find just the right words to express at your graduation, even though I have given many, many commencement speeches. What I usually do is leave a short message with graduates, because I know that probably 10 years from now, most of you won't remember what was said, most won't remember who spoke, most graduates really just want to get beyond the speeches to the celebration part, but this is a different time and you are in a different place. So for me to leave with an 'aim for the stars' or a 'don't be afraid to travel further from the shore' or words of wisdom from Dr. Seuss, while they all may be traditional, but they seem just a bit trite and maybe just used up, because what you've been through as the class of 2020 in just the last semester has been anything but routine...But rather than be overhelmed and daunted by what lies ahead, I will encourage you to embrace this as a challenge. Look at the unknown as a way and an opportunity to grow in a way that you just couldn't imagine. In other words; expect the unexpected. One thing is certain in life is that change is going to happen. Unexpected situations are going to come your way. So, you have a choice to make; you can let them knock you down or you can lean in, keep standing and grow."

"Graduates, the knowledge that you have gained, the skills you have mastered and the personal qualities that you have developed are truly a cause for celebration. So, whether you're graduating from high school, college or a job training program, know that this is a significant milestone. You have learned that every new day can bring the unexpected. It is what you decided to do with it that really matters. I encourage you to think of the end of this school year as the beginning of a new adventure. An adventure filled with some twists and turns, some detours and certainly the unexpected. So, embark on this new journey with optimism and strength. To the graduates of the class of 2020, congratulations, you make Alaska proud."

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