Vice President Mike Pence delivered the commencement address on Saturday at Grove City College, a private, Christian school located in Grove City, Pennsylvania, offering up a biblical lesson that touted the importance of integrity and leadership.
Pence also got a bit more personal, pointing to his own past failures running for Congress and losing twice before finally securing political victory, to encourage graduates to persevere and forge on toward their dreams and aspirations.
“The Bible says, ‘To whom much is given, much will be required.’ I believe that you leave here today with one particular responsibility. It’s what I came here to tell you. You leave here with a responsibility to lead,” Pence said. “All of you without exception are called to be leaders, no matter where you go from here.”
The Vice President said that while some will “walk in fields of faith” and others will enter technology, law, military medicine or a plethora of other fields, leadership will be the common denominator.
“While your paths may all be different, I would offer you today that the same call of leadership falls on each of your shoulders,” Pence said, before going on to offer some important tips to help every graduate along his or her leadership path.
He encouraged graduates to “aspire to be men and women of character” and to engage in servant leadership, and pointed to President Donald Trump as an example of someone who he believes is “an example of leadership and perseverance.”
“You know, from the first day of our administration, and in the great tradition of this college, our president has been freeing the American economy by rolling back the heavy hand of big government,” Pence said. “He’s been expanding educational choice opportunities for some of our most disadvantaged children. He’s been rebuilding our military, restoring safety to our streets, and I can’t tell you how proud I am to vice president to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of life and all the God-given liberties in the Constitution of the United States.”
Watch Pence’s address below:
After offering some praise to Trump, Pence told graduates not to fear criticism and to never to quit on their dreams. He held up the example of his own life to explain why youths should recognize their hopes aspirations.
“My calling from the time I’m old enough to remember was public life. I grew up in a small town in southern Indiana. My grandfather had immigrated to this country from the land of Ireland. One of the heroes of my youth and of now was President John F. Kennedy,” he said. “I got it in my head somewhere when I was a kid that if John F. Kennedy’s grandfather came from Ireland, and he was able to serve in Washington, D.C., maybe some day I could, too.”
Pence went on to note that failure sometimes delays dreams, explaining that there was a key detail that Grove City College president Paul J. McNulty left out of Pence’s biography while introducing the vice-president at commencement: Pence lost two congressional elections before finally being elected a third time.
“Now, President McNulty left this part out of the biography that he read, because you see I actually ran for the Congress of the United States twice before I was elected on the third time,” Pence said. “You’re going to face challenges in the days that will unfold after this day, occasionally encounter a setback — but I want you to trust that dream that’s in your heart and never let it go.”
In Pence’s own life, this meant going into another field, raising a family and trusting God in the process. Eventually, he was able to serve in Congress and as a governor before becoming vice-president of the United States.
“From this day forward, to the Grove City College class of 2017, you are called to lead fearlessly. Be men and women of integrity, with a servant’s heart,” he said. “Expect opposition and persevere. And lastly, have faith. For as the good book says, ‘He knows the plans He has for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'”
Earlier in the address, Pence also praised the graduates as well as their parents for the monumental accomplishment, while also showering accolades on Grove City for “standing firm for the principles upon which it was founded.” In particular, he noted that the college has gone above and beyond to protect its independence.
“History records that beginning in the 1980s, Grove City College refused any federal funding and defended its position before the Supreme Court of the United States of America, and to this day Grove City College is one of only a few colleges in the United States to refuse all federal funding,” Pence said.
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