Graduates of Johns Hopkins University got a surprise commencement speaker Thursday: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. He spoke via livestream from Ukraine, where he said the war has crimped the futures of countless young Ukrainians, robbing them of opportunities and loved ones, per the AP. Zelensky told Hopkins graduates to keep that in mind and to make the most of every moment. "Time is the most valuable resource on the planet," he said. "Some people realize this sooner, and these are the lucky ones. Others realize it too late, when they lose someone or something."
During his remarks Thursday, Zelensky described a recent visit with Ukrainian troops on the front lines, saying many have dreams and aspirations similar to those of the American graduating students. The difference is young Ukrainians are forced to endure the collective tragedy of war before chasing their dreams, he said. “You have to know exactly what you need today—and what you want your tomorrows to look like.” The commencement ceremony took place at the school’s Homewood Field on the university’s Baltimore campus.
Zelensky, whose response to the Russian invasion has made him an international symbol of democracy, said he’s confident future generations of American leaders will continue championing democratic values around the world. The university announced Zelensky’s address with the ceremony already underway, just minutes before his remarks were set to begin. University President Ron Daniels awarded Zelensky an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree after his speech.
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