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Former New York Governor George Pataki
Former New York Governor George Pataki

USC launches a new set of grads

Former New York Gov. George Pataki urged graduates at the University of South Carolina’s summer commencement Saturday (Aug. 6) to find the spirit, unity and optimism he saw in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Even on our darkest day, I have seen that optimism on display,” Pataki told graduates of the university’s eight campuses. “On that day, the worst of days, I saw the American spirit, our courage, our optimism. I saw hopefulness about the future amidst the tragedy of the moment.”

At Saturday morning’s commencement ceremonies at the Colonial Life Arena, the university awarded 1,484 bachelor’s, master’s and professional degrees, including 1,110 degrees from the Columbia campus. Pataki was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Northwestern University chemist and materials scientist Tobin J. Marks received an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Pataki criticized government spending in Washington, decried the recent debt crisis and expressed concern about the high rates of unemployment.

“Unfortunately the world beyond this beloved home of the Gamecocks is not quite as idyllic and beautiful as this great campus. You graduate at a time of enormous economic uncertainty. Too many Americans and more particularly, too many bright young talented Americans cannot find a job.”

Despite those “storm clouds and concerns,” Pataki told graduates of the need to remember what binds them as Americans.

“In those days after the attack, Americans came together in a way I have never experienced before or since…Today we need to find that same spirit,” he said. “When we stood together then, and when we stand together today, united in our willingness to confront our problems head on and to solve them, there is nothing we cannot do.”

For the graduates, commencement marked the chance to start anew.

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