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Soledad O’Brien Addresses Hunter Graduates

Hunter's 205th commencement exercises took place on May 29, 2012. Among the many highlights of an inspirational ceremony was the speech to the graduates by Soledad O'Brien, Emmy and Peabody award-winning broadcast journalist.

"Soledad's work as a journalist embodies our Hunter motto, Mihi cura futuri, The care of the future is mine," Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab said in her introductory remarks.

That journalistic work has included memorable documentaries on the lives and struggles of Latinos and African-Americans, and on-the-spot reports following Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Thailand, and the earthquake in Japan.

O'Brien told the graduates, many from immigrant families, that she was the daughter of immigrants who met in graduate school. Because her Cuban mother was black and her Australian father was white, their interracial marriage was illegal in Maryland, where they lived at the time of their Washington, D.C. wedding in 1958.

"They knew that they were on the right side of history, and that history would catch up with them," O'Brien told the graduates.

"I became a reporter because I wanted to tell stories about people like my mother and father," she said, adding that the best part of her job is giving voice to whose who never make it into the history books but have important stories to tell.

"Listen to others. Try to really hear them. When you seek to listen, you can make a great impact," she advised. 

She also urged the graduates to try to understand communities other than their own, and to work together for progress.

"There is nothing worse than doing nothing and saying nothing when your voice is needed," she said. "Break down that wall, push down those barriers.  Because we are all in this together."

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