Video: A salute to the Class of 2011

  1. Closed captioning of: A salute to the Class of 2011

    >>> as we mentioned before the break, the time has come tonight to continue our annual tradition around here, showing you the best of this year's college commencements, and meeting members of the graduating class along the way. there's no shortage of advice for them. but among them there's no shortage of brains or talent or spirit, either. so here now, your class of 2011 .

    >> i think it's incredible that four years have gone by in the blink of an eye .

    >> i have very persnickety hair.

    >> the jig is up. the clock has run out. and the future with a capital f now rests with all of you and your goofy hats.

    >> the plot you choose may change or even elude you. but being your own story means you can control the theme.

    >> i'm matthew randall.

    >> definitely very silly.

    >> i'm michael nguyen. i'm very personable.

    >> i'm a student veteran.

    >> let's think about those who would love to be sitting in the chairs you occupy today. the entire time you've been here at fordham there have been young men and women in uniform over there serving in two wars.

    >> my time in iraq is really, really hard to put to words.

    >> you were young children when you watched planes hit the world trade center world trade center . you quickly understood what it was like to feel out of control.

    >> i was in the seventh grade. from the window we could see the smoke coming from the towers.

    >> the shooting brought to my front yard things that i thought i had put away a long time ago. this is a beloved member of this community.

    >> the country's most powerful earthquake --

    >> the massive earthquake and tsunami hit my home town in japan. everything was gone.

    >> i looked out, and i couldn't see the end of the tornado to left or right. it's an awe-inspiring terror.

    >> i can report to the american people --

    >> we ran down to the white house to celebrate that moment in history. [ cheers and applause ]

    >> do not let the many challenges of the world discourage you. don't let the cynics and skeptics dampen your enthusiasm. dream, my friends. dream. you fall up

    >> i dream to be a film director and producer.

    >> well, i have lots of dreams. i dream of saving the world .

    >> what brought down hosni mubarak was not facebook, and it was not twitter. it was a million people in the streets ready to die for what they believed in. so if you want to get something done in the world, never forget, ultimately you have to get out of facebook and into somebody's face.

    >> and every single day i walk into the oval office , and for all the days of my life i will always remember that in no other nation on earth could my story be possible. could your stories be possible.

    >> we are some of the most resilient --

    >> determined.

    >> compassionate.

    >> we are unwilling to carry on the hatred.

    >> i really love you.

    >> so there you have it. humility, patience, and faith. and always a few tears from me.

    >> i'm the class.

    >> of 2011 .

    >> [ speaking foreign language ].

    >> [ speaking foreign language ].

    >> now go get them. what you just saw is an annual labor of love. it represents months of work by our crack team of producer victor limhoko and our terrific editor bev chase, even desk assistant shay connelly. and if you want to hear more from those great students we profiled there, there's a terrific interactive feature on our website for that at and before we forget, congratulations to the class of 2011 . that's

Gallery: To the Class of 2011

Meet some of the members of this year's graduating class.

NBC News and
updated 6/1/2011 3:42:06 AM ET 2011-06-01T07:42:06

The annual "commencement package" is a time-honored tradition here at NBC Nightly News, and tonight we present it to you with an unprecedented amount of material on-air and online. For producer Victor Limjoco, editor Bev Chase and associate producer Shea Connelly, it truly was a monumental and rewarding project.

Our NBC Nightly News team went through 260 tapes this year to stitch this story together. Some of the strongest, most emotional material came from our sit-down interviews with students at The George Washington University, University of Alabama, Fordham University, University of Southern California and University of Arizona. We hope you enjoy this interactive feature where you can hear more from the Class of 2011 (on this page) . To create the musical backbone of the piece, we worked with several amazing artists. Special thanks to music researcher Lisa Granshaw and our friend Chris Davis. Here's the playlist for the songs you heard tonight. Please support them:

"Water from the Same Source" by Rachel's
"Brand New Day" by Joshua Radin
"Rattle These Bones" by Hoots & Hellmouth 
"Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
"My Terrible Friend" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

And if you’re inspired by the commencement speakers this year, you can hear their entire speeches here . We've got speeches from Tom Hanks, Amy Poehler, President Obama, Rep. John Boehner, and many more.

Congrats to the class of 2011!

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