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Christie Tells Rowan Grads Hard Work is Key

Gov. Chris Christie (R), addressing graduates of southern New Jersey’s Rowan University on Friday, said that their new degrees will provide opportunities but do not guarantee success.

Gov. Chris Christie addresses graduates at Rowan University
Gov. Chris Christie addresses graduates at Rowan University (Rowan University)

“In the end, what will determine your success or your failure will be how hard you’re willing to work,” he said.

He told the graduates about his maternal grandmother, who he said inspired him to work hard. She was born on a boat between Sicily and the United States, had little formal education, entered into an arranged marriage and divorced by her mid-30s. After that, Christie said, she got a job at the IRS and saved enough to travel the world.

Many weekends, Christie would stay with her. Together, he said, they would walk to a library on Saturday morning and watch “Meet the Press” on Sundays.

She died at 92 just after he was appointed United States attorney for New Jersey in 2001. He said that when he visited her shortly before she died, she looked at him and said, “My life is full.”

He said that the day after he was elected governor in 2009, he visited her grave.

“I went there just as a sign of respect, to let her know that I would not have been there without the example she set for me,” he said.

Governor Chris Christie shakes hands with President Ali Houshmand at the end of Rowan University Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony
Governor Chris Christie shakes hands with President Ali Houshmand at the end of Rowan University Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

His speech, decidedly nonpolitical, came at a time when Christie’s political future is under scrutiny.

In an interview this week with CBS’ Bob Schieffer, Christie said that he is considering running for president in 2016 but will decide later.

It seemed almost certain that he would run until January, when it was revealed that a former aide of his and another former loyalist arranged to shut down traffic lanes near the George Washington Bridge as political retribution. Christie has denied any advance knowledge of or involvement in the lane closures, but the issue has become a major distraction for him this year.

In New Jersey, he has one particularly pressing matter coming up: How to fill a projected $800 million gap between now and the end of June. His administration is scheduled to release its plan next week. There are limited options for cuts or delays in spending on short notice.

Two state senators receiving honorary degrees, Donald Norcross and Senate President Steve Sweeney, graduated from Pennsauken High School together in 1977, and neither of them went to college. Norcross is now running for Congress.

They were recognized for their championing the creation of the university’s Cooper Medical School as well as roles, along with Christie, in restructuring the state’s higher education system. In changes that became official last year, Rowan was given research university status by the state government, it also absorbed a school of osteopathic medicine. With the help of a higher education bond act approved by voters in 2012, the former teachers college is on an aggressive expansion campaign.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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