- Grove City, Pennsylvania

May 30, 2014

Jeb Bush: Live by convictions

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made his only commencement speech of the year at Grove City College on Saturday.

Bush came because he respects what the school stands for, said President G. Richard Jewell on Monday.

Jewell knows Bush, raised funds for his second term as governor in the Sunshine State - he served his terms from 1999 to 2007 - sat in his Tallahassee office with him a few times "and knew people well that knew him," he added.

Bush's sister-in-law, former First Lady Laura Bush, stood before graduates at the college's 2011 commencement exercise.

Both Bushes were asked to speak at GCC through the Washington Speakers Bureau, the president said. The bureau is for people "who are out of office and other interesting people," Jewell noted.

On Saturday, The Physical Learning Center's gymnasium at GCC and overflow room was packed with guests watching their loved ones graduate and to hear Bush at GCC's 134th ceremony.

He assured students that "I always listen to my mother," he said, after asking her what he should speak about.

"'Speak about 15 minute and then sit down,'" Bush quoted her, causing the crowd to laugh.

Bush interspersed humor throughout his talk, but had a more serious demeanor when he spoke about the future of the country.

He reminded the students that most of them were born in the early 1990s, following the fall of the Soviet Union. During their lives, a lot has changed in the world since.

In over two decades, the country has seen "periods of incredible prosperity and a severe recession," he said. "We have seen extreme terrorist attacks on our own soil and fought wars on others."

Technology and science have touched all aspects of American life, and science will continue to advance to make life safer and easier. With "radical advances in medicine, you're likely to live past 100 and your children are likely to live past 130," Bush said to the young faces.

Despite these things, things could be better. From his life, Bush sees "why we aren't what we could be today," he said, "and why I'm so hopeful of what the future holds for you to bring our nation back on course."

Since Brown v Board of Education of Topeka in 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there would be equal education for students of all races, "Substantial progress has been made ... but a sizable achievement gap still exits between white, affluent students and poor, minority students," Bush said.

In closing this gap, "education can be the great equalizer in America," he said. "It's a moral imperative, and frankly, it's an economic one as well."

Economists believe that whatever state a person is born into - poor or rich - is likely where he or she will stay, but this is not the America "that leads the world ... where there's the right to rise," Bush stated. 

Future leaders must pave the way in taking advantage of current and future opportunities/policies "to not stand in the way of its citizens," he said, and make America a "right to rise society again."

That comes in a number of ways, such as rebuilding America's immigrant heritage, economic freedom and strong communities, Bush said.

"Strong, committed, two-parent family life will break the cycle of poverty for so many. The institutions of family and faith are the key to helping people live lives of purpose and meaning."

He also encouraged the students to live by their convictions, despite the federal government knowingly allowing religious freedoms to be violated, he said.

"We don't have to accept it. There's a number of companies, organizations and individuals who are not backing down from this fight, and you shouldn't either."

Bush encouraged them to find "dignity and devotion" in the workplace, and to see work as a "virtue," he added. "There is nothing that can limit people's aspirations. If we have that attitude, great things can happen."

For those who wish to be public servants "Don't let the ugliness of politics keep you from pursuing public office. There's always room for informed, engaged and compassionate leaders in every level of government," Bush noted.

"Fight change when it compromises your principals and values, but be an early adopter when it comes to change that improves lives."

Most importantly is putting the success of growing a loving family above the success that comes with hard work, and "raising children in your faith and values," Bush stated. "Be good, be kind, be charitable, have compassion, and have a whole lot of fun," he added.

His last words to the graduates: "Know that God is with you and loves you. I will be praying for you for years to come because you are part of the success story that's coming for our great country."

Published May 21, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.