By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | May 29, 2012
Commencement speaker Candy Crowley told graduates ages 20 to 66, she wants their dreams to come true, but she also asked the Maharishi University of Management Class of 2012 to watch for the “un-dreams.”
Crowley, CNN’s award-winning political correspondent and anchor of “State of the Union,” flew into Fairfield Friday, getting a brief glimpse of the community and campus.
“I’m looking forward to the trip,” she said by phone Friday while riding to the airport in Washington, D.C. “I’ve been talking with one of the folks who attended school there and it’s fascinating.”
Crowley’s dream upon college graduation when she was in her 20s didn’t turn out, she told graduates.
“I was engaged and prepared to move [from the east coast] to California, have five boys and iron my husband’s shirts for work,” she said. “Some of God’s best gifts are unanswered prayers.
“Instead, I’ve been on the rooftops in Marrakech [Morocco]; slept in the Sahara and rode on camel back to the top of the dunes to watch the sunrise in the company of a king; visited China with three different presidents; and I’m married to the man I love and I have two wonderful sons,” she said. “Those were my un-dreams.”
Crowley said she learns something new each day on her job. She shared insights gained from political figures she’s interviewed over the decades.
“From Bob Dole I learned the three Bs of speeches: Be on time; be brief; and be seated,” she said.
“One of my heroes is John Lewis, an original member of the [Civil Rights] Freedom Riders. He was a keynote speaker at Martin Luther King’s  ‘March on Washington.’ He is the fiercest quiet man I’ve ever met.”
“You have to know where people come from to understand where they’re at.”
Lewis was born and raised in 1940, in Troy, Ala., the third son of sharecroppers. He studied nonviolence, organized sit-ins and by 1963 had been arrested 24 times for his activism.
Since 1987, Lewis has served in the U.S. Congress, representing Georgia’s Fifth District.
“I asked John if he were ever scared,” said Crowley. “He told me no, he knew that even if he was killed, the movement would continue. It was greater than him.”
“To get to where you want to go, you have to stand and be who you are. Do your revolution your way and let others do it their way.”
She talked about interviewing people on the streets of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.
“I heard stories about loved ones who always went to work in the towers on time, but that particular morning, the cat threw-up — the daughter was so upset dad drove her to school that day and wasn’t at work when the planes hit,” she said. “And others said their loved one never went to the towers, but an old high school friend was in town and visiting a mutual friend at work in the towers, so this family member joined them and died.
“The fear after 9/11 made me braver,” said Crowley. “Life is so random. Take those broad sweeps and move through your life unafraid. Keep moving, life takes care of itself. Be unafraid to live your own life.”
She shared about Tom Ridge, the first secretary of Homeland Security.
“Tom Ridge was a Marine grunt in Vietnam,” she said. “He has a hard time talking about his time in Vietnam, but I asked him what lingers. He said it is the nights. At night, he had time to look up at the sky, which was very quiet and beautiful. Stars were more abundant because there was no competition from city lights. He found beauty there in the midst of horror and battle.”
“You’ve made the decision to come here, to this university. It gets tougher as you move on into the world, but find the beauty in what you’re doing,” she said.
As a self-professed political junkie, Crowley said the week George H.W. Bush was going to announce a running mate in 2000, also was the week of a long-standing tradition of a large family reunion in Michigan.
“I was unsure if I should attend the reunion, and I decided if I was that unsure, I should listen to my gut, which said attend the reunion,” she said. “So that became what I call the ‘death-bed test.’ What will you think of a decision on your deathbed? I’m pretty sure I won’t be wishing I’d stayed at work to hear Dick Cheney named as the running mate.”
At a friend’s recommendation, Crowley learned Transcendental Meditation in 2008 in Washington, D.C.
“It re-centered everything for me,” she said in her phone interview.
Reprinted with permission from The Fairfield Ledger
CNN anchor Candy Crowley gives Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management is now available on the MaharishiUniversity YouTube channel.