It’s no small task to put together a speech for hundreds of future politicians and leaders, but it was a challenge Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin was happy to accept for the graduating class of James Madison College at Michigan State University.
“It was just a joy to do it,” Slotkin said. “Nothing makes you feel more hopeful than graduation ceremony of public servants.”
When it was time to write, Slotkin says she just asked herself what she would’ve wanted to hear years ago when she was in their seats. Sharing personal stories from her work in national security, she urged the graduates to get to know their moral codes and to stick to them.
She also spoke on the events at MSU that students had witnessed first-hand as they completed their degrees, like the Larry Nassar scandal and the changing leadership of the university.
“This class has seen a lot,” Slotkin said, “and they’re discussing it in class, they’re talking about it in the hallways. So it just felt like it was an important lesson to seize upon.”
That message? To not just talk about problems as they arise, but to take action and be part of a solution. It’s something she says she continues to do in Washington through bipartisan legislation that she hopes will strengthen national security.
And as she continues to meet with people living in her district, she plans to keep living by her message to the graduates and serving her community.
“It wasn’t always the case that you were constantly hearing from your constituents and acting on it,” Slotkin said. “And I think that it may not always be in the media, you know, the far left and the far right tend to get all of the media attention, but there are a big group of us in the middle frankly in often bipartisan fashion who are working on getting things done. It’s just not always in the headlines.”
And she says regardless of each person’s beliefs, she wants them all to remember the privilege they have of serving others as they move into their careers.