Ambassador Gilchrist’s Remarks at the Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU IIRPS) Graduation Ceremony
January 31, 2023
Vilnius University, Universiteto g. 3, Vilnius
Dear graduates, Director Margarita Šešelgyte, distinguished alumni, faculty, students, and staff – it’s an honor for me to be here with you today.
First, let me address the graduates, and offer my congratulations on this significant milestone! Your graduation ceremony celebrates the beginning of your journey that will have a lasting impact on your lives, on your people, and your country. You’re graduating and entering a world at a defining time for the future of Europe. No matter what you do next, you have a responsibility to take on the world’s biggest challenges – climate change, regional and world peace, energy security, human rights violations, global health issues and inequality. You have an opportunity to breathe a new life into Lithuania’s most important values. It is up to you to be strong, especially when your values are tested. Use your education, your voice, and your ideas wisely to leave the world and country a better place than you found it.
I would also like to commend the faculty members and the leadership, who have supported and mentored their students throughout this journey, the faculty are shaping Lithuania’s future leaders. I would also like to thank your family and friends because it takes an entire community to raise and inspire the next generation.
Graduates, now that you have completed this chapter, perhaps some of you will consider continuing your path in the academia. And some of you might even decide to turn to the United States. Just last year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy’s exchange programs. In fact, since 1992, our Embassy has sent more than 1,300 Lithuanians to the United States for academic and professional exchange programs, including, Lithuania’s former president Dalia Grybauskaitė. Many Faculty professors are our alumni of the most recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world – Fulbright. TSPMI Faculty, if you can please raise your hands if you have participated in a U.S. exchange. Graduates, I encourage you to seek out these faculty and others who have participated in our Fulbright and Study of the U.S. Institutes exchanges and ask them how these opportunities shaped their career and perspective. Perhaps some of you are determined to become the next Minister, President, or Diplomat, and turn serving your nation into your life-long mission. Either way, as an American diplomat and U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania, I can strongly say that the world will never cease needing political scientists and analysts, who cherish knowledge and cooperation in the spirit of the free democratic world.
But no matter the steps you may choose to take next, the future is yours. Stay open to growth, discovery and the myriad of opportunities that lie in the most unexpected corners of life. Be courageous and empathetic, be aware of your privileges and think of those that are less fortunate. Be bold, stay true to yourself and live by the principles installed to you by your parents, your community, your university, and your free country.
Congratulations to you all and thank you for the honor of addressing you here on this important day.