POSTED: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 8:30am
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 8:34am
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WGNO-CNN) — It's time to go out with a bang. Years of hard work for Tulane University graduates can finally pay off. Of course, a graduation in New Orleans would not be complete without a second line. And you probably haven't seen his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama raising the roof with his umbrella.
Graduates Ariana and Janine say, "Everyone loved it. It was so exciting."
Joseph Molinary adds, "Awesome!"
Natalia Franco adds, "Wonderful!"
Jodi Freedman, a mother of a Tulane graduate says, "I cried. I thought the ceremony was beautiful."
Freedman couldn't be more happier for her daughter, perhaps, even a bit envious. She adds, "I absolutely wish the Dalai Lama spoke at my ceremony."
It's a ceremony these students will never forget. The pomp and circumstance, the pageantry of it all, and as they file into their seats, the transition from student to real life sinks in. In a year that's seen the bombings in Boston, the shootings at Sandy Hook, and the Mother's Day shooting in the 7th Ward on Frenchman Street, these students could use a renewed sense of hope.
The Dalai Lama says, "Now you start your real life. It could be more complicated. Difficulties. You must keep optimism and self-confidence. Very important."
Sure, his holiness admits he's never attending a single day of class, "I think my knowledge compared to your knowledge is almost zero."
But his insight is life-changing. The Dalai Lama says, "Think in a more global level and try to create a more peaceful world. That makes a more compassionate world."
It's a big deal to have an honorary figure like the Dalai Lama giving you best wishes at your graduation speech. But if it wasn't for the students, faculty and staff at Tulane's social work program, he wouldn't have been here. Last summer, 14 students worked with Tibetan refugees in northern India, and at the same time, Tulane University secured the Dalai Lama's visit to New Orleans.
Katie Templet, a graduate of Tulane's Social Work program says, "We did art projects with kids and young monks and we saw Ama Adhe, who was a prisoner in Chinese Tibetan camps. Their sense of humanity is so amazing."
And how about a sense of humor?
The Dalai Lama says, "This hat not mine. From president. So now I return to you."
It's a day of memories they'll cherish in the years to come. How many people can say they took a selfie with the Dalai Lama?