June 21, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at LaGuardia Community College's 50th Annual Commencement

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at LaGuardia Community College's 50th Annual Commencement
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Governor Hochul: "50 years of this institution changing the lives of countless individuals. So many immigrants who came to this state, looking for what is known as the American dream, but I call it the New York dream because we welcome everyone here. And your success will define the success for your children and your children's children."

Hochul: "That's a testament to you as people of strength and people who believe in yourself so much that you say I can get a better outcome with this degree. This degree is my ticket. It's a ticket to opportunity. It's a ticket to a good job. It's a ticket to success. And that ticket you're punching here today, you've just done it for the children to follow in your family and yes, your grandchildren. That's the power of this degree."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at LaGuardia Community College's 50th annual commencement ceremony.

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

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning, Class of 2022. Oh, I feel the energy out there. You can do a little better than that though. Come on, Class of 2022. Yeah, that's more like it. I'm a little bit late because I had something that might be a little common to some of you living out here. I had a flat tire.

And I'm coming after those potholes. I'm telling you right now, those potholes are toast. We are coming after you. So President Ken Adams, we've worked together for many, many years. You are champion for economic development for our state and your ascension to this premier position. This is a very much a plum job. You have to be very, very special to be selected to be the leader of this amazing institution. So I want to commend you for what you've done.

Also, I know our chancellor just broke - a great, great leader. Felix Matos Rodriguez, I look to him for guidance all the time. Many of the ideas that you saw in our budget, you just heard about, the money coming to support the teachers and the programs in childcare.

Anybody out there have kids? Yeah, childcare is a big deal. So, how are you supposed to be taking care of your kids? You're supposed to be getting education. So we're trying to help you figure that out. So I want to thank him for great being a great leader.

Our Borough President, Donovan Richards. I love this guy. You've got the coolest among the coolest of all the elected officials around, Donovan Richards. And Guillermo Linares, the Head of the Higher Education Services Corporation.

I've got this long fancy speech for all of you, but I'm probably going to just toss it aside. First of all, 50 years of this institution changing the lives of countless individuals. So many immigrants who came to this state, looking for what is known as the American dream, but I call it the New York dream because we welcome everyone here. And your success will define the success for your children and your children's children. And why do I know a little bit about that?

Because I come from grandparents who left great poverty as well. They came here with nothing. My grandfather was a migrant farm worker trying to get any job he could. And finally, after being a domestic servant and being abused by people that they worked for, my grandparents fed to a place called Buffalo, New York.

Have you ever heard of Buffalo, New York? Well, I just want you to let you know, they call it the Queen City. They're not trying to take over Queens County, but they call it the Queen City. Buffalo was where you could get a job making steel with your hands. When grandpa got that job, it lifted our family up to be part of the middle class. No longer poor, no longer unable to make the bills.

And my dad got a job at that steel plant, but you know what else he did? When he was married to my mom, living in a trailer park in the shadow of the steel plant, my dad worked on getting a college degree. Worked all night, but went to class by day. When my dad graduated with that degree, our family was changed forever because now he could get a good paying job, but he also set the expectation that all of his six kids would have the same opportunities.

So it started with grandpa, my father, all of us. And I think the same has happened tomany of you. First time college students raise your hands, first time in your family. Okay. You have now changed the course of history for your family. You don't know it yet, but your kids someday are going to say, my mom did this, my dad did this, and I will do it as well. So you, by taking the risk - maybe language has been a challenge, maybe you've had overcome some other issues related to finding a place to live. Who's taking care of the kids? How are you going to pay for tuition? You overcame all that. And that's a testament to you as people of strength and people who believe in yourself so much that you say I can get a better outcome with this degree. This degree is my ticket. It's a ticket to opportunity. It's a ticket to a good job. It's a ticket to success. And that ticket you're punching here today, you've just done it for the children to follow in your family and yes, your grandchildren.

That's the power of this degree. And I want you to own that because this is a very big deal, not just for you personally, but your success will define the success of our state. As you continue to thrive and be contributors, you will also help us regain our stature in the aftermath of something known as the pandemic. Anybody remember the pandemic? It hit this area hard. You were college students, you were isolated from classmates and classes and the whole normal experience that you were denied for a couple of years.

But you know what? In coming through this, it made you so strong, so resilient. No one can touch you now. And anything that comes in the future - and you will have challenges. You'll have many challenges personally, professionally, life's going to throw you a lot of curve balls. But you know, you hit those curve balls and get home run. You say, you know, I got a college degree during a global pandemic. You can't touch me now. This is your north star. When times get tough, you say I got through this pandemic. I got a degree. I persevered, and there's no one else tougher than me. Call upon the strength of the experience you just came through.

And when you come back here, in fifty years for a college reunion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of LaGuardia College, 100, you'll be here, save me a seat. I'll try to be here too. You come back and you're going to look at your classmates and say, wow, we went through a lot together. Nobody else has that same story.

It's like my grandparents always talk about the depression. That defined their generation. You'll talk about this, not in the negative. And I know this area was hit so hard, we lost so many friends and family members. It hit us hard, so many people lost their jobs, but we came back. That is the story of New York. And that is the story your class will teach the rest of us.

But when you come back in 50 years for that reunion, I want you to be able to ask yourselves the answer to this question: Did my life, did my obtaining this degree, did my ability to go forth and make change in this world, did my life make a difference in the lives of others? You need to be able to answer that only one way. And the answer has to be "yes." Did you get engaged on the causes of our time? Did you stand up for people in poverty and help lift other people out of their circumstances?

Did you stand up for women's right to choose under assault in our country today? Did you stand up to make sure that we can have sensible gun safety laws so we can stop crime on our streets, did you stand up for that? Did you stand up to stop the assault on Mother Earth and protect the environment for generations to come? Did you stand up and fight those battles? Did you stand up to protect the LGBTQ community that's always under assault in Washington? Did you stand up? Were you counted? Did you march? Did you make a change?

If the answer is yes, with any of those and the challenges that we can't even think about today that are waiting you tomorrow, if you made a difference in the lives of others and moved our social progress forward, as a true new Yorker, who inherited the destiny of the place that was the origin of the Women's Rights movement, the labor movement, the LGBTQ movement, the environmental movement?

That all started here in New York. And you're New Yorkers. So that weight is on your shoulders. And I'm a mom. I'm the first mom to ever have this job. I know how to use mom-guilt really strong. So I'm putting that weight on your shoulders. I'm the mom, I'm looking at all of you. Don't let me down. Don't disappoint your moms. That's how I got my kids to do everything. "Oh, I'm so disappointed." So that weight is on you today. Own it. It's not a burden, it is your way you can make a difference. It'll be part of your life's story when you get here in 50 more years and you talk about it.

So graduates, and to the families who suffered and persevered and said, "My child is going to get a degree," or the spouses and the partners who supported you, and all your children, they went through so much. So this day is for all of them as well. What a great celebration. Go forth. Go forth into the great state that is looking to welcome you with open arms and we are waiting for you to help make this be, yes, the new New York that it deserves to be. Congratulations, everybody. Thank you.

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