Dr. Walter Nicgorski, Dr. Bradley Lewis and family, Dr. Randolph Smith, Dr. Aarón and Adriana Castillo, Dr. Don Stelluto, teaching assistants, and students.
Seven years ago when I graduated from this program, Instagram didn’t exist yet. At that time, Facebook had 480 million users worldwide, now it has approached the 2 billion mark.
In 2007, the Internet of things; drones; autonomous and electric cars, where projects in the making; now, most of them impact society and have changed the way millions live worldwide.
Ask yourselves, where were you in 2010? In only 7 years, the United Kingdom ceased to belong to the European Union, we had a change of Pope, the political situation in the United States was quite different, and we didn’t’ have a karaoke night around here either. All of these and much more happened in just 7 years. Imagine what will happen in the next decade.
The world is moving fast, some may say, exponentially; nonetheless, the spirit, message, and joy in the Phoenix Institute are just the same as when I left.
The world will continue to move fast, big changes are coming for society, some good, some challenging, and that is why educational programs such as this one, are necessary for the world.
They are necessary since it is crucial for women and men spread throughout the world, to have the intellectual formation and ideas, to help preserve the principles and virtues that make us human and not just subjects of a society where the essence of human nature is at stake.
It is necessary for young men and women in the world to have the vision and criteria to analyze and take a stance when some of these changes may affect human dignity and the common good. I believe we must not only be subjects of change but makers of change, innovators for the common good and the transcendence of the person and society.
The medal that will be imposed in some minutes is called “Order, Dignity, and Country”, three words that describe some of the values promoted by the Phoenix Institute. Order in society`s principles, Dignity of the human person, and love of Country.
In this special day, we remember and cherish the teachings and friendship of Dr. John X. Evans, the institute’s founder. A man, who has taught with ideas, but most importantly, with his exemplary life; always present in our lives in the company of his wife, Rosemarie. A professor who has promoted the thought, that each and every one of us has the ability and responsibility to perform heroic deeds in our daily life.
When we think of heroism we might think of the military skill and bravery of Achilles in the Iliad, Pericles’s ability and capacity to lead depicted by Thucydides in the Peloponnesian War, or Ironman and Wonder Woman nowadays. Nonetheless, heroism as Dr. Evans taught us, consists in the capacity to perform small or big deeds in our daily lives that benefit society and those who surround us.
We might, but probably will not have the opportunity to perform a glorious heroic action in the war. We live in one of the most peaceful eras of mankind –despite the many challenges in different countries- some economists have argued that there is a higher probability for us to die due to bad eating habits, than from armed conflict or terrorism.
It is the time where our heroism should be performed in common activities, such as at a business meeting, studying for finals, being around our loved ones or even having a drink with friends.
I want to thank all of those who constantly work through thick and thin to make this program a reality. In the end, they are the backbone of the soul shaking experience we’ve had the privilege to be a part of.
I also want to thank the University of Notre Dame for welcoming us every summer on this astonishing campus, and for allowing us to be a part of the Notre Dame family.
Let us then face change, but also build it and be innovators for the common good, and also, let us work in helping others learn about the amazing life experience that is the Phoenix Institute and taking part of its joy.