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Mitt Romney Reminds Grads To 'Live A Large Life,' But Not By Seeking 'Fame And Fortune'

05/18/2015 01:15 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2015

Mitt Romney encouraged graduates at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, on Sunday to "live a large life."

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate, was quick to note that living a large life didn't mean getting rich and famous, however. He reminded graduates during his commencement address there are more important things they should focus on to lead a "fulfilling, purposeful life," like making sure they "value and nourish" friendships.

  • "I remember sitting in a business class, looking around the room and thinking to myself that I'd probably never see any of these guys again after I graduated. All my attention was focused on what was being taught. But you know what, I've forgotten almost everything that was taught; it's the classmates I remember, and it's those friends that I value most today. Forty years since my graduation, the guys in my six-person study group continue to get together. We've congratulated one another on our highs and consoled one another on our lows."

He emphasized the benefits of having a family he cares for deeply.

  • "Marriage involves passion, conflict, emotion, fear, hope, compromise and understanding -- in short; it is living to the max. ... I'm not sure whether having five sons qualifies as a full quiver, but I can affirm that they brought immeasurable happiness. And to my point, they engaged Ann and me in life, in ways we would not have expected."

Romney encouraged grads to work hard, but cautioned against seeking "fame and fortune."

  • "More importantly, if your life is lived for those things, yours will be a shallow and unfulfilling journey. The real wealth in life is in your friendships, your marriage, your children, what you have learned in your work, what you have overcome, your relationship with God, and in what you have contributed to others. ... Work engages you in life. You come to know more people, to understand their motivations and values, and to learn the intricacies of the enterprise that employs you. Dive in. Get more from your job than the paycheck. Hard work is living large."

Romney talked about serving as pastor at his church and learning that many of the families who he thought seemed perfect had their own problems.

  • "To my surprise, almost every single family faced one kind of challenge or another. They all had a bag of rocks behind their backs. We all will hurt. ... Engaging in your world means accepting that hurt, confronting it, and endeavoring to ascend above it so that you can keep pursuing a fulfilling and abundant life. ... I have experienced successes and failures. I am asked what it felt like to lose to President Obama. Well, not as good as winning. Failures aren't fun, but they are inevitable. More importantly, failures don't have to define who you are."

And the former presidential and U.S. Senate candidate also advised grads to help others.

  • "Living life in fullness includes serving others, and doing so without pride or personal gain. It will fill your heart and expand your mind."

Romney received an honorary degree during the commencement exercises, and joked about his own travels to New Hampshire in the presidential campaigns he ultimately lost.

"When I think of all the times I have been here at Saint Anselm, for debates, forums, town meetings, and rallies, I might argue that it is an earned degree," he said. "But to get one of those, I guess I'd have had to win!"

But Romney later encouraged graduates to consider running for office, or at least to serve and work to improve the country in some way.

"Most of you probably won't run for office, but the country needs all of you to serve," Romney said. "America faces daunting challenges: generational poverty, looming debt, a warming climate and a world that is increasingly dangerous and tumultuous. Washington appears inept, powerless and without an effective strategy to overcome any of these. America needs your passion, your impatience with inaction, your participation in the political discourse."

Watch the full speech in the video above.

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