ob Schieffer was terrified as he waited to receive his college diploma in 1959. After nine attempts to earn four semesters of Spanish, he wasn’t sure he had passed that final course, and “in those days, they actually pulled you out of line if you didn’t have the required credits.”
But not only did he graduate, Schieffer went on to become one of the country’s most respected broadcast journalists. He has covered Washington for CBS News for more than 30 years and has anchored Face the Nation since 1991. A member of the Broadcasting/Cable Hall of Fame, he is one of the few journalists to have covered all four major beats in the nation’s capital: the White House, Pentagon, State Department and Capitol Hill.
Schieffer, 71, was the keynote speaker at the fourth annual Graduation Celebration at Maverick Stadium in May. Times have changed for the better, he said, noting that 50 years ago only the most naïve would have argued that an African-American or a woman could become president of the United States.
“In less than my lifetime, we have moved from a society that not only encouraged but legalized discrimination and bigotry, to one in which those things are universally denounced,” he said. “We have a long way to go in America, but we also have come a very long way. Let us never forget that.”
Among Schieffer’s words of wisdom to the Class of 2008:
“I urge you not to worry so much about success, which to most people means making a lot of money. Instead, I hope you will pursue what really excites you, something that you like to do.”
“Your sun is still in the morning sky. At your age, you have plenty of time to make corrections or just try something else. We get only one trip to planet Earth. You don’t want to reach my age, look back and say, ‘I wish I had tried something else.’ ”
“Heroes walk alone. Stars seek public approval. Heroes are driven by inner values, stars by consensus.”
“It is safe to say that greatness has nothing to do with celebrity. But I would also say to you that greatness is not always defined by success. To the contrary, it can sometimes be the opposite. True greatness has more to do with the battles we choose to fight than the battles we win.”
“Remember always why you feel so good today. It is not because you have a piece of paper that says you have graduated from college. It is because you set out to do something—and you did it.”
— Mark Permenter
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