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KNOXVILLE – A veteran newscaster for National Public Radio told the University of Tennessee’s approximately 3,400 graduates Saturday to keep getting better and to follow their dreams.

Ann Taylor, a frequent contributor to NPR’s award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered, spoke to graduates at UT’s spring commencement ceremony.

Taylor advised the grads to expect change in their lives, as they

Ann Taylor

enter the work force.

“Change is not always better, but to be able to adapt to change is imperative,” Taylor said. “However, try to remain true to yourself. Anytime I have made a decision out of deep conviction, it has eventually turned out to be the right decision, while it may not have felt that way at the time.”

Taylor said times of change bring opportunities to those who are bold enough to reach for them.

“We cannot always determine our fate. But we can try to make better our individual surroundings, and we can reach out to each other. I challenge you to follow your dreams, your aspirations, and your hopes.”

As a newscaster, Taylor was on the air in the hours and days immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. She said it reminded her that much of life is chance.

“On the morning of September 11, I flew from New York City, where I live, to Washington, DC, where I work,” shortly before the attacks began, Taylor said. “I tell you this because in life, much is chance. You cannot predict what is going to happen at all times. You simply have to adjust, respond as best as you can, and try to move forward.”

Taylor drew parallels between New York City’s survival in the face of terrorism, and UT’s survival in the face of potential shortfalls in the state budget.

“New York is wounded, but it will survive, because of the people who live there,” Taylor said. UT has had its problems, she said, “but this university was founded in 1794 and it, too, will survive, because of the people who teach here and the people who learn here.”

The number of graduates participating in Saturday’s commencement exercise was expected to be a record-breaker, because of the consolidation of spring and summer commencement ceremonies.