San Antonio, TX—Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, encouraged the newly minted graduates of University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to find ways to serve their communities and their county in his May 6 address at the commencement ceremony of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
As head of the agency that oversees federal volunteer and service programs, Corvington is determined to expand opportunities for service to more Americans and targeting service toward solving pressing social issues. “If you want to be remembered for more than the size of your income or the square footage of your living space, seek to serve some greater good than your own,” he said.
Corvington presented UTSA President Ricardo Romo with the 2009 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Award in recognition of the institutions promotion of community and service-learning on campus. Nearly 20,000 students led and participated in service projects during the 2008-2009 academic year on a variety of issues from mentoring disadvantaged youth to feeding the hungry.
Earlier in the day, Corvington met with a group of community leaders and visited the McAuliffe Middle School where AmeriCorps members are working with the Diplomas Now program to increase graduation rates among at-risk students.
The full text of Corvington's speech as prepared is available here. Following are excerpts:
“The big question before you today is not how can you use the degree you have earned at UTSA to achieve personal fame and fortune. The question is how can you use what you've learned in college to benefit your family, your community, your country, and your world. In short, how can you serve?”
“President Obama believes, as I do, that citizen service is essential to solving the big problems facing our nation – from poverty and high unemployment to the dropout crisis that is especially devastating in communities of color. Service cannot just be about counting the hours – it must be about raising test scores, lowering the dropout rate, eradicating poverty, moving people from the unemployment to the dignity of work. In short, service must be about making a real difference – the kind of difference that you are making right here at UTSA.”
“Young people like you throughout this country are making a difference. Right here in San Antonio, AmeriCorps VISTA members in a program called College for All Texans are working in this city's public schools, helping to pave a smoother path to higher education for students who might otherwise never get that chance – students who hopefully will one day sit where you are sitting today.”
“Whether you pursue service as a career, a passion, or both, as you leave here today, there is a lot of work to do. We live in a time of extraordinary challenges. Too many of our brothers and sisters here in San Antonio and throughout this country are living in poverty. Too many are dropping out of school. Too many of our seniors are alone and neglected. Too many of our young people have been cut down by crime and guns and violence in our communities. We have the power to tackle these problems. But we need your help. Government cannot and should not do this work alone.”