Approximately 1,500 students walked across the stage at Royal Farms Arena this afternoon to claim their diplomas at Johns Hopkins University's commencement ceremony.
The universitywide event—which followed two days of celebrations and divisional graduations—featured guest speaker Frank Bruni, a journalist whose 22-year career at The New York Times has included stints as White House correspondent, restaurant critic, and columnist.
Bruni opened his speech with an anecdote about his niece, now a student at Johns Hopkins, who once pointed to the ocean as a toddler and said, "So many aguas in there."
The malapropism, said Bruni, symbolized more than just a precocious kid.
"I share [that story] because it underscores the part of life that's too easily forgotten in a world swirling with ambition, and in a milieu as accomplished as yours—the part that will have more to do with your happiness than any job you snag or any ladder you climb," he said. "That part is the quality of the interactions with the people around you, especially the ones closest to you; the amount of time you give them; the fierceness of your commitment to them."
He added: "I've noticed that the highest achievers aren't just driven, they're doing jobs so aligned with their passions that they have energy and inspiration to burn. Keep that in mind as you set your courses."
In his address, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels also spoke about the importance of relationships, hearkening back to his own college days—"the Paleolithic era," he quipped.
He had discovered his dream job: compiling a database of asbestos-related illnesses. But he also discovered the people behind those data points, the lives and the humanity of those who suffered after exposure to the deadly carcinogen.
"The lesson I learned in my first job after college is this: To paint the fullest picture of any circumstance, you must find a way to do both—take the expansive view, and look at things up close; understand the collective evidence, and never lose sight of the incredible richness and complexity of the human story," he said.
He urged the graduating class to embrace the world for its vastness, and its particularities.
"May all that you have learned here aid you as you guide us to a better understanding of our universe," he said, "so that we may, in turn, better serve the people within it."