Dear President Ewing, Board Chair Clayton, Ms. Dimova, and distinguished guests, graduates, faculty, staff and parents:
Good afternoon to you all. I am so glad to be here with you today. ACS is our flagship American institution in Bulgaria, with a proud record of accomplishment and excellence for almost 150 years. It gives me special satisfaction to be here in my fourth year in Bulgaria and at my third ACS Commencement ceremony. Watching the class of 2019 grow and excel during my time here has been a real highlight of my time here.
To Dr. Ewing, the faculty and staff, and the board of trustees, let me just say: congratulations. ACS is an amazing, wonderful school not just because of its past, but because of the heart and soul that you pour into it every day.
To the Class of 2019, congratulations on your accomplishments. I am excited to be here to see you cross this stage, receive your diplomas, and start a new chapter in your lives.
I join your families in saying how proud we all are of what you have achieved, and how confident we are of your future success. You should all be very proud of what you have done during your time at ACS. The caliber of universities that so many of you will attend later this year – including in the United States and all over the world – is testament to your hard work, your dedication, your creativity and your passion. And let’s give your parents some credit as well, as I think it is fair to say that you would not be here today without them, and I know how truly happy they are to be here today to see you reach this milestone..
I am wrapping up my time as U.S. Ambassador. I depart in July after a truly wonderful three and a half years in Bulgaria. Without a doubt, I leave here with a sense of optimism for the future of Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people. Much of the reason for my optimism is the enthusiasm and dynamism of young Bulgarians – yourselves very much included. I know that all of you will go on to do great things, and you will contribute to your country in many different ways.
I know that most of you are going off to university overseas. That is something to celebrate. For those of you going to the U.S., we will welcome you with open arms. Yours is a free generation, one that can make its own choices and choose its own destiny. That is a beautiful thing. Freedom is beautiful. Your parents and especially your grandparents and great-grandparents had nothing like that freedom. Cherish it, enjoy it, explore it, and benefit from it.
But then I do hope that many of you will come back to Bulgaria to help build your country. I am passionately positive about Bulgaria and I hope you will be too, after exploring all the horizons that lie open to you.
Best of luck with all of your future endeavors, and congratulations again to you and your families. And once again a heartfelt thank you to the ACS faculty, staff and board of trustees, without whom your success today would not be possible. I wish you success and happiness in the years to come.