Nearly 900 soon-to-be graduates were on the floor of Moody Coliseum on Saturday morning. Before receiving their diploma covers, they listened to Alan C. Lowe, director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and their speaker for the graduation address.
Lowe began with admitting that he did not know what to say to these adults embarking on a new life. He started by briefing his audience on the library, followed with some life lessons he had acquired.
As they are preparing for the library, Lowe said, they are going through 60 million pages of documents, nearly 100 terabits of records, more than 42,000 artifacts, and 4 million photographs.
“Our goal will be to remain a useful resource to SMU,” he said.
Lowe has been with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for a number of years, where he helped the agency oversee 12 the nation’s presidential libraries. He was appointed director of the Bush Presidential Library in January 2009 by NARA. The library is expected to open in 2013.
“You never know where you’re headed,” Lowe began, “so be as prepared as you can be.”
Lowe used himself as an example: when he looked everywhere for work after graduating, he finally got a call from the Ronal Reagan Presidential Library for an interview. He said he believed that he handled himself very well through the whole process, as he explained that his dream was to work with something in history.
When he hung up the phone, however, he asked himself, “what the heck is a presidential library?”
As the audience laughed at this, he encouraged the students to jump in whatever opportunity they can, and to never let fear get in their way.
And for those who admire the world’s leaders, Lowe said that even the greatest have failed, and they’re still normal people.
“Men and women who lead this world are just that-men and women.”
He mentioned Theodore Roosevelt, who lost his wife and mom in the same day and how Franklin D. Roosevelt had to deal with Polio.
Lowe referenced Reagan once again in his strategy in the Cold War. As Reagan planned to solve the long-time conflicts of world powers, Lowe said, he was still a “real person making a difficult decision.”
Lowe squeezed a laugh out of his audience with a joke involving a room full of manure before closing off his speech.
He wished them all luck in their endeavors, and told them that all those leaders, all those people who you admire, “they are not in any way different from you.”