When Janet L. Robinson, retired CEO of the New York Times Company, spoke at Wheaton College’s Commencement ceremony on May 19, she paid special tribute to someone who wasn't there.
Robinson took the opportunity to recognize the Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs correspondent Anthony Shadid, who died earlier this year from a severe asthma attack while on assignment in Syria:
"He had a passion for bringing light to people, places, events and forces that seemed so far away, but have affected and will affect our lives so powerfully and so profoundly. In short, because Anthony followed his passions, he did not take just joy from his work, he lived a life of tremendous meaning and greatly impacted the lives of many who read his well-chosen words. He served others through his writing. He was part of something much greater than himself. …Anthony was not content to leave life to chance or simply hope for the best. He actively chose to do something he loved.”
She also told the graduates to remember that life isn't about chance but choice instead.
"Chance is what the world brings to you, but choice is what you bring to the world,” Robinson told the 404 graduating seniors. “Do not leave your journey to chance... Choose to do whatever it is that you love, and do it enthusiastically, relentlessly and unapologetically.”
Robinson joined the Times company in 1983 and was named CEO in 2004. She left the company in 2011 but not before she was included on Forbes magazine’s list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.
Robinson was presented as an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Wheaton. The school also passed out honorary degrees to Wheaton graduates Deborah Haigh Dluhy, who became the first woman to serve as dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and Barbara Jensky Kovensky, president of Experchem Laboratories, a pharmaceutical and natural health products testing company in Toronto.
Watch Janet Robinson's Speech In The Video Above
BEFORE YOU GO
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