‘The Beginning is in Sight,’ Cardona Tells UConn Graduates

The US Secretary of Education reflected on his own experiences as a UConn graduate

Miguel Cardon at Commencement Podium

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona addresses the Class of 2021 virtually at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

This is not the end, it’s the beginning.

That was the message from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona ’01 MA, ’04 6th Year, ’11 Ed.D., ’12 ELP to UConn’s 2021 graduates, delivered Saturday, May 8 via video during the livestreamed commencement ceremony for all students receiving degrees this year – undergraduate, graduate, and professional.

“This is the beginning of your journey to find or refine your purpose,” said Cardona, who was a teacher and principal in Meriden schools early in his career, before eventually serving as Connecticut commissioner of education.

In his remarks, Cardona reflected on the challenges this year’s graduates have faced over the past 12 months, and applauded their versatility and resilience in response to the pandemic. He also looked back fondly on his own experiences at UConn, including the time his extended family traveled in a school bus to the ceremony at which he was awarded his doctorate.

“To this day, colleagues I graduated with still say, ‘Dude, you brought a school bus to graduation at UConn!,'” Cardona said. “But instead of the Partridge Family playing folk music, it was the Cardona Family playing Salsa.”

Summing up, Cardona reminded graduates that, along with opportunity, higher education also brings responsibility.

“Go out and serve,” he said. “Make the world better. Make sure that in your pursuit for purpose, you help others. Always remember, it is better to be known for testimonies about you than for any titles you have.”

Watch the video of Cardona’s remarks here: