Senator Susan M. Collins

Remarks to Graduates, May 21, 2017

Thank you, President Fox. Trustees, faculty, alumni, and especially the Class of 2017, I am deeply grateful for this recognition from a place that means so much to me. And I am delighted to share this moment with this distinguished class receiving honorary doctorates.

One of them, my St. Lawrence professor Dr. Rick Guarasci, opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking, challenging my assumptions – just as a liberal arts college should do. Dr. Bob Wells and Dr. Ansil Ramsay of the Government Department encouraged my interest in public service, as did many of my favorite professors, like Jim Memmott in the English Department. Classes in the Religion Department and in Environmental Studies broadened my horizons and influence my thinking to this very day.

I could give many examples of how my St. Lawrence education informs my work in the Senate, but two in particular come to mind.

The first, and most important, was the January 1974 internship the Government Department sponsored in Washington, D.C., where I worked for then Maine Congressman Bill Cohen. Little did I know that I would end up succeeding Bill in the United States Senate 23 years later. That internship sparked my belief that I could make a difference.

The second may surprise you. It was a class I took in Christian ethics. One topic was stewardship of the environment. That theme of stewardship is a concept that guides my perspective in considering environmental legislation to this day. That is my St. Lawrence education in action.

Graduates, your St. Lawrence education will guide you throughout your lives, both professionally and personally. Like me, you will proudly be “Laurentians for Life.”

I ask that you use the critical thinking skills you have learned here to constantly broaden your horizons, to understand and respect views that differ from your own, and to restore civil discourse to our national debates.