Christie’s commencement speech gets mixed reactions
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave the keynote commencement address at Seton Hall University’s 154th Baccalaureate Commencement Ceremony on Monday at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford.
Dean Patrick E. Hobbs of the School of Law introduced Christie, a 1987 graduate of the Seton Hall University School of Law. Hobbs also addressed Christie as part of the New York Times 100 Most Influential People list and a possible presidential candidate.
“Every day he gives every ounce of his energy to the state of New Jersey,” Hobbs said.
Christie’s presence and speech were given mixed reviews by students and parents.
“I’m honored to be standing alongside Governor Christie,” Valedictorian Melissa Filipek said.
“Some people are not afraid to lose popularity in order to do something necessary to bring change and improvement. This is one of those men,” she added.
As Christie approached the podium, a mix of applause and unwelcoming commentary came from the audience.
Christie acknowledged those who did not welcome him, and began his speech as a “proud alumnus” of Seton Hall.
He referred to a New York Times Magazine cover that referred to him as “the disruptor,” and said, “I think a disruptor is someone who is willing to challenge the status quo.”
“You need to be a disruptor in the way that your heart and your mind tells you to be a disruptor,” he added.
Christie also addressed the challenges of this era, stating that said challenges are not as obvious as they have been in the past.
He quoted commencement speeches given by former presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Regan, saying that students must challenge complacency and educate others even more in this era.
“We have to reform the entire vote. Now we need to embark on a new era,” Christie said.
Christie also said that money, fame, and gracing the covers of magazines seem to be the most important ways of being a disruptor, but added that fame is not the only way to be a disruptor with the education college students receive.
“Democracy is a unifying feeling, not just a theory in government,” Christie said.
Christie repeated the idea to the graduates that they now have a responsibility to be “disruptors” with the education and privileges they have been given, since having a college degree is a unique opportunity.
“Every day I wake up with the chance to do something great,” Christie said. “I don’t do something great every day,” he added.
Christie finished his speech, saying to the Class of 2011, “you can be what you want to be everyday.”
After this statement, one student in the crowed audibly replied by saying “a teacher.”
“We are not from New Jersey, but we still believe that he was a poor choice,” one parent said.
“I have no comments besides the fact that I would have preferred to hear from someone very different,” another parent noted.
Graduating senior Patrick McCabe also received a special mention from Christie after, according to Christie, McCabe insisted that he would not be remembered or included in the speech.
Several other students and their families were approached for comment on Christie’s speech, but declined.
Charlotte Lewis can be reached at email@example.com