Bill Gates Sr. advice to UW grads

Jun 12, 2010, 5:44 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Bill Gates Sr. got a standing ovation from the University of Washington’s class of 2010 as he talked about everything from personal indulgence to fighting for global equality.

Gates1“There’s nothing wrong with learning how to do the hip hop dance,” he says. “Nothing wrong with planting a garden or playing in one of those fantasy sports leagues.”

But Gates, who’s 84, says the most rewarding experience for him has been raising a family. He thinks the young graduates will feel the same way in 60 years. He also advised the grads to cherish their friendships which will take them a long way in life.

While he’s comfortable talking about the importance of family and friendships, Gates ventured into an area that he says makes him a little nervous…public life.

“For all the rewards of private life, my life would have been much the poorer if I had not experienced those moments when I felt like I belonged to something larger,” Gates says.

He says everyone needs to do something to counteract what he calls the “disadvantages that random chance has imposed on others.”

UWstudents“I don’t care if you carry a banner or if you stand near the back. You can yell into a microphone if you like or you can listen carefully if that’s your style,” says Gates. “You don’t need a soapbox to be a good citizen, you just need to be part of the public will to make life on this planet a little better.”

Gates urged today’s graduates to take on the movement for global equality, just as those in the 1960s fought for civil rights.

EmmertBill Gates Sr. wasn’t the only one with words of wisdom for the class of 2010.

Saying, “What a great day to be a Husky,” UW President Mark Emmert wrapped up 39 years of service with higher education.

He told students the top lessons he’s learned over the years – the value of taking risks and “sticking his neck out to try something new and different” and the benefit of “occasionally shutting my mouth and listening to other people.”

Emmert says he’s also learned, it’s important to have fun.

“There’s too many people in the world, I’ve found, that go through it with their head down and complaining and concerned and dour and just kind of not very fun to be around. Don’t be that person,” Emmert says. “Be someone who loves what you do at work, at home, at play. Have fun.”

This was Emmert’s last commencement at the UW. He’s leaving to lead the NCAA in the fall.

UWStudentAt the UW’s 135th Commencement, Bruce Nordstrom received the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus award. That’s the highest honor given to a former UW graduate. Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, who were instrumental in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s success for 27 years, received honorary degrees.
The Class of 2010 raised $47,000 for its gift to the UW. The money will be spent improving lighting on the Seattle campus. And the grads who looked like they had the most enjoyable day were from the College of Built Environments. Some of them wore gold hard hats instead of the traditional mortarboards.

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Bill Gates Sr. advice to UW grads