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Zelenskyy surprises JHU graduates as commencement speaker

Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking to JHU graduates
Posted at 11:29 AM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 14:29:52-04

BALTIMORE — Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy surprised Johns Hopkins University graduates by appearing as a commencement speaker - virtually - this morning.

Zelenskyy's speech was livestreamed during the outdoor ceremony. After the speech, he was awarded a diploma of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Zelenskyy spoke about the concept of time and not wasting time, calling time "the most valuable resource on the planet" - not oil, lithium or anything else.

"Some realize this sooner, while others realize it too late," he said. While it's possible to find new deposits of oil or lithium, "it is still purely science fiction to live longer than has been given."

He also congratulated JHU graduates, saying:

"This is your parents' pride, which they have every right to if they raised children who graduated from Johns Hopkins."

He said soldiers on Ukraine's front lines, and the Ukrainians "who are forced to live through Russian aggression," unfortunately don't have their time under their control.

Zelenskyy told graduates that he is certain "you, as your forefathers, will continue to lead the free world" in a century where tyrannies that seek to "enslave their neighbors will vanish."

Students gave a standing ovation after the Ukrainian president's speech.

Anne Applebaum, the university's Senior Fellow of International Affairs for SAIS (School of Advanced International Studies), said in her introduction to Zelenskyy: "No one better represents the qualities that this university shares: bravery, optimism and faith in open societies and democratic values."