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MTV Founder Tom Freston Gives Saint Michael's College 2012 Commencement Address

05.14.12

Freston, Tom speaking 5-14-12Some 478 students received bachelor's degrees and another 65 received master's degrees at the 105th commencement exercises of Saint Michael's College held today, May 14th in the SMC Ross Sports Center. Some 4000 people including graduates and their families and friends, and faculty and staff of the college, located in Burlington, Vermont, heard excellent speeches from two students, from the president, the chairman of the board, and from main speaker Tom Freston.

Media mogul and humanitarian, Tom Freston, graduate of Saint Michaels' class of 1967, told the graduates hard work is key to your future.

"My advice," he said, "is really to look for a career in fields that are on the ascent and bring an old-fashioned work ethic to them."

"There is great value and sustaining dignity in good old-fashioned hard work, whether that means crunching numbers or cleaning bathrooms," he said.

He said he learned that as a student washing dishes in the school cafeteria, working nights for the Frosty Stein, delivering sandwiches late at night, sweeping floors at Fanny Allen hospital, and managing a few bands over at UVM.  

Honorary degree recipients

Tom Freston was given an honorary degree during the commencement ceremonies, as were Sister Lindora Cabral, RSM, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Northeast Community; Major General Michael Dubie, Adjutant General of the State of Vemront; and Rev. Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, professor of New Testament at Boston College.

Freston: "social innovation" is "the clarion call of the future"

Freston spoke of inspiration he got from Saint Michael's graduating seniors who expressed optimism and repeatedly said they were getting involved in community service projects. He encouraged them to focus on "social innovation" ... "the clarion call of the future."

"Social innovation harnesses the spirit of entrepreneurship and the power of capitalism to take on some of the toughest problems in the world – everything from improving our schools to micro-financing business development at home and abroad to greening our planet," Freston said. This takes up where corporate and government programs leave off, he said.

About his life at MTV, Freston said he was able to combine hard work with his passion for music to make something brand new. "Back in its early days, MTV was a true sensation, all about music and the cutting edge." After MTV came Nickelodeon, Nick at Night, Comedy Central, TV Land, global expansion, movies and so on, he said. 

He warned the graduates to "Avoid getting locked into any one path or any one way of looking at things because your lives will be lived in an exciting world of accelerating change.  It would be a shame if you slept through it."

He also advised the graduates to travel: "In today's globalized world, you're going to want a broadened perspective with lots of solid and first hand international knowledge.  So my advice is to pack up, go out and see the world."

Read Tom Freston's Commencement speech here.

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