Former president Bill Clinton called on Howard University's graduating Class of 2013 to "do what makes you happy" and "keep serving" Saturday morning as he addressed the 145th Commencement Convocation at the historically black college.
Clinton delivered the speech after catching an overnight flight to the District from Haiti, where his foundation has worked to improve conditions since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked that country in 2010.
Saying that the best commencement speeches were "brief and highly relevant," Clinton illustrated his theme of helping others by telling a story of meeting a man in a refugee camp in Indonesia who had lost nine of his 10 children in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
"This man ... led me through that camp with a smile on his face and never talked about anything but what those other people needed and what he wanted me to do for them," Clinton said. "No matter what happens to you, it is highly unlikely that you will ever face anything as awful as what happened to that mother and father."
Clinton was introduced by former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, who noted that "we might very well see Bill Clinton in the White House again," a reference to a possible presidential run by Clinton's wife Hillary in 2016. For his part, Clinton did not speculate on his wife's future, but did characterize her relationship with President Obama -- with whom she battled for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and under whom she served as Secretary of State -- as an "amazing friendship."
Clinton received a honorary Doctorate of Laws from Howard, which bestowed 2,687 degrees Saturday, 1,675 of which were at undergraduate level.
Other local schools holding commencement exercises this weekend were American University, St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. John's College in Annapolis, University of Mary Washington, The College of William and Mary, University of the District of Columbia, and Capitol College in Laurel.