This past summer while most of you were taking a well-earned break, one of your fellow students was killed with his father and two brothers by a 20-year-old drunk driver.
His name was Kelly McConnell. We will join his friends and teachers for a memorial service for him on campus this semester. He would have been a sophomore, a member of the class of 2013.
Kelly was a brilliant student- a funny guy- who was loved by his rugby teammates.
He worked in the marketing department as a student assistant. He was majoring in accounting.
He was a young man of great poise and promise. He had just celebrated his 19th birthday.
He was cut down tragically by a stupid, irresponsible driver who had been drinking. This year, more than 11,000 people will lose their lives to drunk drivers.
I know you receive all sorts of mixed messages. Young people hear a lot of empty lectures these days.
People tell you that alcohol use is dangerous. But then you see advertisements and TV shows and movies that glorify drinking.
People tell you that you don’t have to drink to have a great time. But then you go to parties and clubs where almost everyone is drinking.
Personal responsibility means standing up for something you know in your hearts is right. And working together to stop substance use and impaired driving can save lives.
If you’re underage, don’t drink. If your friends drink, don’t let them drive home. Take their keys.
We need more Canes caring for Canes.
Our young friend Kelly will never walk across our beautiful campus on a sunny day in September.
He won’t get to go with his friends to see the Miami Hurricanes beat Florida State on Oct. 9.
He won’t be pulling an all-nighter studying and writing papers to finish this semester.
What I wanted for him I want for each of you: wonderful learning semesters at an exceptional university, a glorious graduation day, a job or graduate school and fabulous futures.
Have a safe semester. Take care of each other.
Donna E. Shalala is the president of the University of Miami.