Mitt Romney wears yellow graduation regalia while standing behind a Johns Hopkins University podium.

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Commencement 2024

Mitt Romney urges Johns Hopkins graduates to rely on family, friendships

In Commencement address, U.S. senator and longtime public servant encourages the Class of 2024 to find 'stability and meaning … in friendships, in love, and in commitments'

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, Johns Hopkins University's 2024 Commencement speaker, acknowledged that this year's graduates are living through turbulent times. But he offered reassurance that they will be just fine if they invest their time and energy in the things that matter most—their connections to one another and the people who mean the most to them.

In remarks to graduates at Homewood Field on Thursday morning, Romney, who is known for his defense of democratic ideals during a career devoted to serving the public, acknowledged that there is "a good deal of serendipity and luck involved" in making one's way in the world. He urged the class to rely on family and friendships, rather than their careers, to find happiness. "I would suggest that instead of defining yourself by your career, that you choose to define yourself by things that are entirely in your control—your love for your family, your friendships, your faith, your service to others."

Video credit: Johns Hopkins University

It's in those meaningful connections that the graduates will find the most satisfaction, Romney said.

"Some people think that having no attachments or casual attachments is the kind of freedom that'll bring them happiness," he said. "They're wrong. In fact, it's our connections to others, to important causes that we believe in, to our voluntary commitments to others that truly bring meaning and satisfaction to our lives. The more committed your connections, the greater your satisfaction."

Romney, one of six honorary degree recipients at Thursday's ceremony, also stressed the importance of personal integrity to "living a life which is consistent with your most fundamental values. Listen to the words of your conscience. Do not be indicted by your conscience. There's nothing quite as sweet as being able to have the peace of conscience."

Despite living in a time of "national division and political demonization," Romney encouraged graduates to "remember that America is a resilient nation that has weathered wars and pandemics and financial crises and have always emerged stronger."