Elizabeth Warren (D.Mass,) may not have run for U.S. President as some anticipated, but she can count a number of major accomplishments. From practicing law to crafting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau--a government agency overseeing major financial institutions--to representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, Warren has served the public for more than 40 years.
Still, she sees the future generation of college graduates as having the potential to affect even greater change than she has. "My pitch is [for you] to get more involved directly in the Democracy of policy," Warren said, speaking at the commencement ceremony for the graduating class of 2017 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on Friday. "It's no longer possible to assume that Democracy will work if Americans wait until election time to learn about the candidates," she added.
To her last point, Warren has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration, taking aim, in particular, at Trump's attempts to ban immigration, and his refusal to release his tax returns. Earlier this year, Warren attempted to read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, criticizing Trump's pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, on the Senate Floor. Though Warren was ultimately silenced, the incident became something of a rallying cry for the Democratic Party.
During Friday's commencement, Warren insisted that "no one in this country is above the law," and that "we need a Justice Department, not an Obstruction of Justice Department." The senator then distilled her advice to graduating seniors--and future business leaders--into three lessons she's learned over the course of her career in politics:
1. You can only have an impact if you're passionate.
Entrepreneurs may often stumble when it comes to choosing a business idea, as graduating seniors balk at the prospect of entering the working world. But Warren says the first step should actually be the simplest.
"Start with something that is at the core of who you are," she said. "You have to figure out what makes your heart flutter and your stomach clinch." That's not just because it will keep you happier: "You are a lot more likely to follow through if you really, deep down, care about an issue," added Warren.
2. Do your homework before you tackle a complicated problem.
Warren urged graduates to seek out the facts--and not, as Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway has put it, the "alternative facts." "Study up," said Warren, "because knowing something about an issue makes a difference."
3. Don't go at it alone.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice was to find like-minded peers to help you attain your goals. "Ten or ten thousand voices create a force to be reckoned with," Warren added. "Each generation must rebuild democracy to serve it's own time and it's own needs."
The embattled Senator looked out, imploringly, at the crowd: "But please do it, because America needs you," she said.