Photo by Kimberly Bojorquez
Growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., Wolf Blitzer says he has always considered himself a “news junkie.”
He had never studied journalism in school or worked for his school’s newspaper, and once he completed his masters program at Johns Hopkins University in international relations, he was asked if he wanted to become a foreign correspondent and applied for a position at Reuters, an international news agency.
“The next thing I knew, I was a young journalist learning the trade from a whole bunch of older, British journalists for Reuters, in their Tel Aviv, Israel bureau,” said Blitzer.
Blitzer said that if students are serious about becoming journalists, they need to “practice, practice, practice”.
Wolf Blitzer spoke at Utah Valley University’s 77th Commencement May 3, where over 6,000 students were given degrees.
“As you celebrate tonight, you’re also thinking about getting your first job. Your future. Whether that means a new adventure in a new place. Or even a temporary stay in your parents’ basement, while you’re getting started,” said Blitzer. “But I hope my words today inspire you a bit and challenge you a bit always to remember that we are all a part of something bigger.”
At the commencement, graduates received 2,432 associate degrees, 3,372 bachelor degrees and 194 master degrees. The most popular degrees were in behavioral science, university studies business management, aviation science, communication and more.
“Decide what your passion is and what you really want to do and then take advantage of that and go out there and try to find a job that will incorporate that passion,” said Blitzer, who’s about to celebrate his 28th anniversary working for CNN. “I’m interested in knowing what’s going on across the country and around the world. I still wake up and feel blessed that I can take advantage of that.”
Blitzer advised students that luck isn’t just about being at the right place at the right time, but to take advantage of the opportunity and exploit it.
Blitzer, who serves as CNN’s lead political anchor, has interviewed prominent figures such as former president Barack Obama, Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential elections, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.
He recognized that journalists are imperfect and try their best to correct misinformation and hold their elected officials accountable.
“I don’t have to tell you that these are trying times, even in this country, to be in the news business. A lot of people, including some really powerful people, clearly don’t like us very much,” said Blitzer.
Since last year, CNN has been referred to as “fake news” by President Trump.
“I can assure you, I can assure all of you, we are not the enemy of the American people,” said Blitzer. “We love our country and we only want the best for our country.”
University President Matthew Holland, who will be stepping down this summer to become a Mormon mission president in North Carolina, gave his last commencement speech.
“I look into your collective future and I see something extraordinary,” said Holland. “I see grand accomplishments, and quiet contributions that will change lives, neighborhoods, communities, and countries. I see you facing the inevitable storms of life with strong character and intellect forged even stronger by the fires of your UVU degree.”
“You’re about to begin a wonderful new adventure,” said Blitzer.
At the end of the commencement, Blitzer was given an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his 40-plus-year career reporting politics and breaking news. Other honorary degree recipients included Rev. France Albert Davis, who received a doctorate of Education; Stephanie Nielson, who received an honorary doctorate of humane letters; and Jeffrey L. Sermon, who received an honorary doctorate of business.