At Princeton’s graduation for the Class of 2010, Baccalaureate Speaker Jeff Bezos ’86, CEO of Amazon.com asked the class, “Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder? Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind? I will hazard a prediction: when you are 80 years old and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”
“Above all, I want for all of you to matter…we live in a world that is obsessed by fame…that in the long run is not what matters. It’s being a force in your community, it’s being a great teacher or coach, it’s ministering to patients or to a congregation, it’s being a great parent, it’s having a positive effect on others, and it’s standing for something.”
At the pan-African graduation ceremony, a professor noted that Princeton would continue to define her graduates, but that they, by their lives, would also define Princeton.
I hope that Princeton’s future will be defined by the lives of her students and alumni who take this advice to heart, who make it a point to be builders and to stand for something.