JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A large crowd of students gathered at Jacksonville University Saturday morning to hear former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tell nearly 900 graduates there's never been a more important time to give back to your country, your community and your loved ones.
He boiled it down to three words: "Get a life."
"That phrase is actually pretty good advice for all of us," the two-time Republican presidential nominee said. "Get a life, have a life, live your life in full. Embrace every fruitful dimension of life that you possibly can."
The visit was a big deal for graduating students at Jacksonville University.
"It is really exciting to have Mitt Romney on our campus for commencement," said Will Baxley, one of the graduates. "I've been to a bunch and it just seems like it's a no name a friend of the president or something, but Mitt is a big statement even for the city of Jacksonville to have him in town speaking. I feel so honored I know our University worked really hard to make that happen."
Romney received the honorary degree of Doctorate in Service and Leadership Excellence at the celebration, which also featured the awarding of eight Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts degrees, the first in the 81-year history of the university, as well as six Master in Public Policy degrees, the first ever at JU or at any university in Florida.
Most student's remember Romney as the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and 2012.
"Some people don't necessarily align with him politically, but just to have a figure of that caliber on campus is a big statement for our university where we are going, and the progress we've made since we've had (JU President Tim) Cost's administration here," Baxley said.
The day also gave a chance for students and their guests to hear from Romney.
"I'm extremely excited to see Mitt Romney, because I was raised Mormon and he is Mormon. I like his beliefs and his values, and it's really exciting to have the opportunity to come to Jacksonville University," Lierin Grant said.
"I mean, I'm a Democrat, but still I respect him. He ran for president, didn't get it, but he still had good points. I'm a pretty open person, so I like to hear all the points of view," Maxwell Dorsey said.
Romney was named by Time Magazine in 2012 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.