Bernanke urges grads to do something they love
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke spoke to graduates Saturday at the University of South Carolina about the importance of doing something they love and living a well-balanced life.
“As your parents always said, money doesn’t buy happiness. An economist might reply, ‘Well, at least not by itself,’” Bernanke told bachelor’s and master’s graduates at Saturday morning’s commencement. “If you are ever tempted to go into a field or take a job only because the pay is high and for no other reason, be careful. . . . The evidence shows that, by itself, money is not enough. Indeed, taking a high-paying job only for the money can detract from happiness if it involves spending less time with your family, stress, and other such drawbacks.”
Bernanke, who grew up in Dillon, received an honorary doctorate of business administration at the ceremony, which honored graduates of the South Carolina Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences. An economist, he spoke of the many things besides income that contribute to a feeling of well being, including social interaction, community relationships and enjoying what you do.
“Economic policymakers should pay attention to family and community cohesion. All else equal, good economic policies should encourage and support stable families and promote civic engagement,” he said.
To help people feel like they are in control of their own lives, those economic policies should respect the autonomy of individuals and communities to make their own decisions whenever possible, since individual freedom is a factor that contributes to a satisfying life.
“Ultimately, life satisfaction is something more than just happiness. Sometimes, difficult choices can open the doors to future opportunities, and the short-run pain is worth the long-run gain,” Bernanke said. “Just as importantly, life satisfaction requires an ethical framework. Everyone requires such a framework for satisfaction. In the short run, it is possible that doing the ethical thing will make you feel, well, unhappy. In the long run, it is essential for a satisfying and well-balanced life.”
In the front row Saturday morning at the Colonial Life Arena, Jessica Steele and Kelly Scriven were getting ready to receive the interdisciplinary degree from the South Carolina Honors College, a rigorous program that allows students to create a major program of study customized to their future career goals. The two classmates had worked together to design an outreach program in Columbia’s Waverly community to encourage healthy behaviors among children living in the neighborhood. They put together a documentary film to highlight their work and the need for public-health education for children.
Steele, a 21-year-old from Hilton Head Island who was the university’s Outstanding Woman of the Year, said that work, inspired by classes in the Arnold School of Public Health, helped set her career course.
“Everything I learned in the classroom I could apply in the public-health initiative” in Waverly, she said. She will leave in the fall on a Fulbright scholarship to Argentina. After that, Steele plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health and hopes to work for a non-profit in nutrition or maternal and children’s health.
“My dad said yesterday, ‘Jess, I’m so happy. I feel like you’ve had a really, really great experience here.’ And I have,” said Steele, who majored in English, public health and international studies.
Scriven, from Monmouth, N.J., will attend medical school at Georgetown University in August. She has spent four years volunteering at the Waverly center. Her work there “helped me learn the challenges the populations face” and the importance of positive health practices, eating healthy and getting regular exercise.
“It’s challenging to introduce those new habits to children. It takes a lot of effort and dedication,” Scriven said. “But the kids trusted us.”
Also at Saturday morning’s commencement, Clara Mengolini of Buenos Aires was receiving her master’s degree in Spanish. She has spent two years in Columbia, and will now head to Vanderbilt University to purse a Ph.D. in Latin American literature. She hopes to eventually pursue a career as a college professor.
Her friend, Gregor Rehmer of Essen, Germany, was receiving his master’s in German studies.
“The professors here are really great. I’ve also been able to teach German (at USC) and that has been a wonderful experience,” Rehmer said. He will head back to Germany for his Ph.D. in American studies and media studies.
Natalie Vereen of Charleston was receiving her master’s in English, after receiving her undergraduate degree at Clemson.
“I wanted to stay in-state. I feel too many people leave,” Vereen said. “And USC has one of the best English graduate programs in the nation. Why not stay here? And I got in-state tuition.”
Vereen is in the job market, hoping for an English teaching job at a technical college.
Lamar Johnson of Aiken is also hoping to teach – in another year. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English education for middle and high school but starts graduate school at USC Monday in English education.
“I met people from all over the world here,” Johnson said. “I met people I wouldn’t normally be around. It’s been great.”
Criminal-justice majors and friends Allan Bolin of York and Jason Allgood of Marietta, Ga., are ready to start their careers.
“I’ve loved it here since Day One. I’m going to be sticking around,” said Bolin, who has accepted a job with the USC police department. He had worked as a campus safety officer and then had an internship with the campus police.
Allgood will start training in January to be a national park ranger. After training, he will be placed wherever there is an opening in the national-park system, but his goal is to get to Yellowstone.
Also at Saturday morning’s commencement, Stephen James Lippard, an inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry researcher and educator, received an honorary doctorate of science.
Saturday afternoon, the university awarded 96 doctoral degrees at the Koger Center. Dr. Gordon Smith, director of the university’s Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, addressed the graduates.
In total, the university is graduating 4,400 students this weekend. That includes 2,801 baccalaureate degrees; two associate degrees; 202 law degrees; 78 medical degrees; 106 pharmacy degrees; 49 graduate certificates; 1,035 master’s degrees; 31 specialist degrees.
At Friday afternoon’s commencement, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and an Orangeburg native, spoke to graduates and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the university.
Students in the Darla Moore School of Business, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, College of Nursing, South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Arnold School of Public Health and the College of Pharmacy received degrees Friday afternoon.
Earlier Friday, the School of Law awarded 202 degrees at commencement exercises on the historic Horseshoe. William C. Hubbard, a member and former chair of the USC Board of Trustees and a partner in the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, received an honorary doctor of laws degree.
At the Koger Center, the School of Medicine awarded degrees to 78 graduates Friday afternoon. Dr. O’Neill Barrett Jr. addressed graduates and an honorary doctorate of public administration was presented to Charles D. Beaman Jr., president and chief executive officer of Palmetto Health.
Robinson will address the 3 p.m. commencement Saturday, which honors graduates in the College of Education; College of Engineering and Computing; College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management; College of Social Work; School of Music; Fort Jackson Military Base Program; Interdisciplinary Programs; and Palmetto Programs.