Words of the Wise

Laughter and the knowledge spread through the audience at the 2011 Spring Convocation. Moderator, Brian Williams, shared his wisdom as well as jokes as he shared the stage with the five scholarly panel members. Each panel member enlightened the audience with their words of wisdom, but here a just a few that caught the attention of many.

Eboo Patel, American Muslim of Indian who an author, journalist, member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, and founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core.

“God made us different communities so we can know each other.”

  • Living in a country that promotes diversity, we have become hypocritical of our own words. Patel sees what an amazing country we are and can be, but we just need a little tap on the shoulder every now and then to remind us. We all come from different places and different religions and that is what makes the place we call home so unique.


David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); and founder, president and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.

“This country was founded on concept of opportunity not entitlement. We’ve lost our way”

  • Entering the world with an average debt of $200,000 per person, does not make way for a positive future. Walker touched down on how Americans need to learn from the past and makes positive steps for the future.
  • Walker also stressed the issue that Americans need to focus on today and less on creating a better tomorrow, because today is the real issue.

David Levin, co-founder of the “Knowledge is Power Program,” a network of high-achieving KIPP charter schools that serves 27,000 mostly low-income minority children in 20 states and Washington, D.C..

“Once kids like coming to school, anything is possible; once kids believe that they can, anything is possible.”

  • David Levin’s passion and dedication to teaching is what makes his program so successful. The love of learning is something that is hard to find these days but the KIPP charter schools nailed it on the head. Children learn through song and music, making their learning experience fun and their future bright.
  • KIPP charter schools have doubled high school graduate rates, tripled the rate of students that attend college, and quadrupled the rate of college graduates in the areas they are located.

Shirley Ann Jackson,a physicist and president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, former chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

“This is a serious issue…Energy is important… that requires a national conversation”

  • The topic is hot, when will fossil fuel for tomorrow run out. We as a nation have an “addiction to fossil fuel.” We all are in demand for it and innovation and understanding are going to play a huge role. As a member on the Council of Advisors on Science and technology, Jackson made it clear we are going to have trouble in the future, and it is going to be all about the actions we take today.

David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN, adviser to four U.S. presidents, director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and chair of the Elon University School of Law Advisory Board.

“America is terrific when we have a wolf at the door; we’re just not very good with termites in the basement.”

  • Americans have mastered the snowball effect, letting problems accumulate until it has just become to large to ignore. Gergen expressed his concern for the future, stating he is “not confident” about it. He hopes all students are optimistic about a better tomorrow, because we can make big chances today.
  • ” You can be the leaders of today, we can’t wait 10 years for you to jump in.”
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