Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise appearance at the commencement ceremony for Johns Hopkins University’s Class of 2023 on Thursday.
Zelensky, appearing via live stream in his signature khaki-green polo, spoke about the value of time and recounted a recent trip to the front line of his country’s war with Russia, which has been raging since February of 2022.
“Time is the most valuable resource on the planet. Not oil or uranium, not lithium or anything else, but time,” Zelensky told the graduates. “Your time is under your control. The time of our folks on the front lines, the time of life of all Ukrainians who are forced to live through this terrible Russian aggression, unfortunately is subject to many factors not in their control … Will you be able not to waste this time of your life?”
He expressed his hope that the graduates would use their time to safeguard democratic values against tyranny and ensure their descendants inherit a peaceful world.
“All of our tomorrows, and the tomorrows of our children and grandchildren, depends on each of our todays,” he concluded, at which point the crowd of about 10,000 students and families gave him a standing ovation.
Zelensky also received an honorary degree from JHU at the ceremony, adding to the pile he received from more than 15 institutions during last year’s commencement season.