While today's graduates are entering the work force amid the worst recession since the Great Depression, "crisis provides a platform for change," he said.
Patrick's series of speeches began at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge on Thursday. He was scheduled to speak at Wheaton College and Bridgewater State College on Saturday, then Tufts University today. The governor said he wanted to encourage students who had spent four years preparing for the work world but find themselves with challenging job prospects.
"They're emerging with skills and preparation and they need to know, as most mature adults do, that economic cycles, as with life cycles, ebb and flow," the Democrat told The Associated Press during an interview. "Like the state, they need to have resilience to carry them through."
The governor cited his recent efforts to use the government's multi-billion-dollar budget deficits as an opportunity to overhaul its transportation, ethics and pension systems. Proposals such as raising the state gasoline tax by 19 cents per gallon have met legislative resistance, but both the House and Senate have advanced legislation to a conference committee.
"There are substantive issues and issues of character that can be reached in times of crisis that sometimes can't be reached during normal times," Patrick said. "Pension, ethics and transportation reform, they have cried out for reform for a long time but have been hard to get to. ... But there is movement and it does have a lot to do with the crisis we're in."
Patrick said the graduates should consider the Greatest Generation and the economic challenges it faced at home while also confronting the spread of fascism abroad during World War II.
"In the midst of great economic and social upheaval, they responded to call for leadership and fought the war and rebuilt the U.S. and European economies, launched the modern civil rights movements and did countless other important things," he said.
The governor concludes his speaking series by delivering the commencement addresses at North Shore Community College on May Thursday and MIT on June 5.
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