The 42-year-old Mayor quoted influential people from Winston Churchill to Wayne Gretzky, from Thomas Edison to Jerry Garcia in encouraging graduates to learn from their mistakes and move forward.
“Success is not a place. Success is not a definition. Success is a direction,” Newsom said. “There is no having-made-it. You will not achieve to be happy. So you must happily achieve. Live your life out loud. Live it with passion. Live it with purpose. Do not fear failure. Learn from, don’t follow others. Always preserve a sense of being different. And remember that no matter how dark it is, the best is always yet to come.”
The commencement address capped a weekend of ceremonies at Dominican. On Friday night, May 14, 138 graduate students walked at Angelico Hall. Dr. Thomas Peters, President and CEO of the Marin Community Foundation, delivered the graduate commencement address. Gerald Napier, a former retailing executive with Federated Department Stores and former president of I. Magnin & Company, received an honorary degree.
On May 15, in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 1,500 at the Forest Meadows Amphitheater for undergraduate ceremonies, Dominican President Joseph R. Fink and Chairman of the Board of Trustees John R. Gaulding presided and awarded honorary degrees to Newsom and Theodore C. Sorensen, author and special counsel to President John F. Kennedy.
“There’s no doubt that these are challenging times,” Dr. Fink told the Class of 2010. “However, often it is during these times of change and times of challenge that we can discover new opportunities. At Dominican, we have prepared you well to seek, identify and take hold of those opportunities.”
The theme of Dominican’s Class of 2010 was “Wisdom though Reflection.” Newsom, who attended schools in Marin County and graduated from Redwood High School in Larkspur, touched on that theme during his animated and light-hearted commencement address holding a wireless microphone.
“There is not much successful people have in common, which is kind of distressing … except one big thing. And that is failure,” Newsom said, turning toward the undergraduate class behind him on stage. “The most successful people I know and have studied have screwed up more than other people. We all have that in common, right? We all know how to screw up.
“The secret of all success is moving from failure to failure with enthusiasm,” Newsom said, rattling off several successful people in sports (Michael Jordan), music (Elvis Presley), business (Henry Ford) and the literature (Dr. Seuss) who were “abject failures.”
“My point is they all had something else in common. They learned from their mistakes but they had the courage to make them,” said Newsom, who is running for lieutenant governor of California. “I know you’ve been told all your life by there people (parents) behind me not to make mistakes, I want to encourage you to start making some big mistakes. I want to encourage you to take some action, take some risks. Don’t repeat them, learn from them and move forward.”
Dominican’s undergraduate class included students from 11 states throughout the United States, including New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Texas, Maryland and Connecticut. The Class of 2010 also includes students from Australia, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Spain and Turkey. Thirty percent of the 285 students who graduated Saturday are the first generation in their family to attend college.
An additional 89 students are scheduled to graduate from Dominican's teaching credential program on May 22.