Kite Runner author tells grads to continue learning, give back to community

Novelist Khaled Hosseini wished Vanderbilt graduates “prosperity” in their post-college lives, but suggested they stay connected to suffering in the world by tithing 5 percent of their time or money to those less fortunate.

Hosseini, author of the bestsellers The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns , spoke May 13 in Memorial Gymnasium to 2010 graduates, their friends and family members. Watch the video.

“I ask you to seek out people in your community in need – to try not just to understand them, but to help them,” Hosseini said.

“It is hard to make a connection with people who are suffering. It requires you to take on some of that pain for yourself. It makes you see a kinship with misfortune, and to see how it could happen to you, and how it would make you feel.”

Hosseini is the 2010 winner of Vanderbilt’s Nichols-Chancellor Medal, one of the university’s highest honors, which is given to individuals who define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit. It was created and endowed by Vanderbilt Law School graduate Ed Nichols and his wife, Janice, in honor of Edward Carmack and Lucile Hamby Nichols. The medal comes with a cash award.

“Your generous contribution, Mr. and Mrs. Nichols, will reach and change many lives in Afghanistan, especially those of women and children, who remain the most vulnerable and most underserved groups,” Hosseini said. “I thank you on my behalf and on theirs.”

Other events held on Senior Day include recognition ceremonies for black graduates and a series of faculty-led seminars that touched on politics, science, the arts and education.

The main Commencement ceremony was scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, May 14, on Alumni Lawn, with Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos speaking. A total of 3,494 degrees will be awarded, 1,583 to undergraduates and 1,911 from the graduate and professional schools.

The Commencement ceremony May 14 will be streamed live on the Vanderbilt homepage .

Media Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS