ICYMI: EPA Administrator Regan Delivers Commencement Address to Alma Mater North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University Class of 2021
WASHINGTON (Dec. 13, 2021) – In case you missed it, on Saturday EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan delivered the commencement address to the class of 2021 and received an honorary doctorate at his alma mater North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Kicking off the speech with “Aggie pride,” Administrator Regan spoke about the legacy of alumni like the A&T Four, and the legacy he hopes to leave behind as head of the EPA to advance environmental justice, tackle the climate crisis and provide clean air and clean water to all people in this country, no matter the color of their skin, their zip code, or how much money they have in their pockets.
Administrator Regan also shared details of his own path from the historically black university to President Biden’s cabinet and advice from his father, encouraging the graduating class to stand up and be counted.
In an interview with the A&T Register, the student newspaper of NC A&T, the Administrator reflected on his time at NC A&T, and highlighted how current students and graduates can get involved in environmental protection:
Regan talked about how the culture at N.C. A&T made him a better student and credits the school for helping him get to where he is today.
“The academic rigor and discipline, but also being in an environment that was comfortable culturally. To look around and see professors, students and alumni that look like you is really important,” Regan said. “So in that comfortable setting I was able to absorb a lot more in the classroom setting and walk away with a culturally rich experience. It had a lot to do with where I am today.”
The EPA released a new recycling plan earlier in November of this year to tackle recycling challenges, climate change and legacy waste issues. Chancellor Martin and Administrator Regan both believe the students on campus can help towards this plan.
“I was talking to the Chancellor about it just last night and he has a number of excited students approaching him about a recycling plan. The sky’s the limit. I think our younger audience is more educated about recycling. We need just need to set up the proper infrastructure so that people can participate,” Regan said.
Administrator Regan’s address was also covered by the Greensboro News and Record:
Michael Regan knew what he wanted to do — and kept not doing it.
“I kept resisting God’s plan and his purpose for putting me on this Earth,” Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Saturday of his early days at N.C. A&T before he finally switched his major to earth and environmental science. “The truth is when you don’t listen to your passion, you just make the journey so much longer.”
Regan gave the commencement address Saturday at A&T’s fall graduation at the Greensboro Coliseum and accepted an honorary doctorate from the school.
“Alright, it’s good to be home!” he told the crowd.
Below are highlights from the Administrator’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Despite the obstacles and challenges of life – and trust me, there will be many – and despite the people who will want you to sit back down, you must stand up and be counted.”
“…you’ve got to fight for something in this life. And only you can decide what that is – maybe it’s voting rights or women’s rights or maybe it’s a lifelong dream to push the boundaries of science or the arts. Whatever it is, when you find it – and it’s ok if you haven’t found it yet – but when you do, grab it. Don’t let it go.”
“Standing up and being counted, fighting for what you believe in… that is what makes you relevant. That is what makes you powerful beyond measure. Relevance is also about permanence in terms of the legacy you leave behind. If you want to know whether you’re relevant in the broader sense, ask yourself two questions: “What am I contributing to society?” and “What will my contribution to society be?”
“For me, I’m just beginning to write my legacy… but I hope that one day, it will be that I used my time on this earth to do everything possible to turn the tide on climate change and to provide clean air and clean water to all people in this country, no matter the color of their skin, their zip code, or how much money they have in their pockets.”
“After completing your A&T experience, you now have the education, you have the tools, you have the ability to become extraordinary. You have everything that you need, so my hope for you is that you will remember your power. And much like the A&T Four, much like my mother and father, much like Chancellor Martin and Dr. Uzo, that you will stand up and be counted.”
“And never ever forget that, yes, indeed, your degree, a degree from a historically Black university, can take you anywhere, including the White House.”