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Kathleen Rice to Hofstra graduates: Follow your passions

U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice speaks during the 2015

U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice speaks during the 2015 Hofstra commencement ceremony held inside the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on campus on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Class of 2015 Hofstra University

Number of undergraduate degrees: 1,264

Number of graduate degrees: 867

Morning commencement speaker:

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) Sunday, challenged graduates to surpass the Greatest Generation, not by doing what makes them happy but by following their passions.

"Do what makes you come alive," said Rice, the former Nassau County district attorney. "People who come truly alive live with purpose and principle."

Rice said: "Your generation has more freedom than any generation in history. You have the freedom to determine for yourself who you want to be."

Afternoon commencement speaker:

Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, told residents to take chances and be unafraid.

He said his wall was papered with rejection notices from newspapers as he tried to find his first job. After Sept. 11, he traveled to Afghanistan to report. "I didn't know what I was doing. I went anyway," he said.

He said while the country is politically divided, the country's founding fathers designed the system to have tension.

"The system is built for divisions. The founders meant for it to be difficult. They meant to divide power," he said. "They wanted decisions to be made by real consensus."

Randy Michael Garcia, 50, anthropology

"My degree is going to help me understand cultures through an international lens, instead of just the lens of an American" said Garcia, of East Meadow, a diplomat at the United Nations who started attending college after a 30-year career in the U.S. Navy.

Andrew Weinstein, 22, music history

"Hofstra has been a really unique place ...," said Weinstein, of West Islip. He will be working this summer at the New York Renaissance Faire as part of the noble court cast and plans to get his master's in orchestral conducting.

Melissa Walsh, 21, exercise science

"I'm going to work at Disney World! It's a four-month program ...," said Walsh, of Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Ainsley Rufer, 22, public relations

"I'm going to get an apartment in New York City and work in the video game industry. I come from a 'cow town,' with nothing, and now I'm living in the city," said Rufer, from Oley, Pennsylvania.

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