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Leo Fontana's Concord Campus commencement address


Leo Fontana

  • July 6, 2009

It’s an honor to be here today and I’m humbled to receive this honorary degree from California State University East Bay. I’d like to thank Bob Lindsheid for nominating me and the Board of Trustees for selecting me to receive this degree and would also like to thank Mohammad Qayoumi, President of the University and his staff for making this such an honorable day.  I am also pleased to have many friends and family members with me today to celebrate this special occasion.

Congratulations to the Class of 2009. You have worked hard and sacrificed to get where you are today and you should be proud of your efforts. You are the future and while today is very special, your education and leadership will be important to all of us in the years ahead.

You are facing circumstances, similar in many ways to those my generation faced over 75 years ago.  We experienced the Great Depression, two World Wars and college was considered a luxury.  Hard work and a commitment to putting America back on its feet was our top priority. The economy grew, America rebounded and good times were back.

Most of you have grown up with certain expectations and are facing some uncertainties you didn’t expect as a freshman and sophomore. You definitely have the opportunity to use what you have learned to help put America back on its feet once again.

In the later part of 2008, we experienced a major failure of our housing market, failure of large banks and financial institutions as well as corporations and major industries.

Soon we were entering a recession – government intervention and stimulus packages were introduced to bolster the economy. You are all aware of and familiar with our current economy.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the importance of being involved in your community, wherever that may be. Volunteering and community involvement provide you with many additional learning opportunities, a perspective on life you may not otherwise have and the opportunity to give back to a cause you believe in and improve conditions in your community.

In volunteering, you will serve and better understand your community with personal benefits enabling you to advance your position in life.

The opportunities to be involved are endless: boards and commissions in your local community, schools, non-profits and local service clubs all provide wonderful opportunities to make a difference. Keep in mind that giving back is a win – win, for you, your community and for the next generation.

You are the future and you can help shape what it will bring for you and for your children. Find something you love, something you are passionate about, live life to the fullest, make sure that at the end of every day you know you’ve given your very best. With time and patience, you will succeed.

I encourage you to look at your professional and personal life using a four way test (this is part of the Rotary Club’s principles). 

Is it the truth? Is it fair to all? Will it build good will and better friendship? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

I’ve tried very hard to use these four points in my life and while I may not have always been successful in ascribing to them, they have served me well have helped me succeed.

It’s been my pleasure to address you today at your beautiful East Bay Campus. The best of luck to all of you. Thank you and God Bless You All!

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