Make It New Grads

The self-made man is a myth, Arnold Schwarzenegger tells students

Arnold Schwarzenegger
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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Former Governor of California, actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made the commencement address at the University of Houston on Friday, told students that community is crucial and that there is no such thing as a "self-made man." The concept, he said, "is a myth."

The former host of NBC's "The Celebrity Apprentice" said that he wouldn't be where he is without the help of many other people, including "my parents, my mentors, my teachers."

He told students, "It's important to recognize that at every step of the way, I had help. It's important to acknowledge that," and added, "As soon as you understand that you are here because you had a lot of help, you realize you need to help others."

"Don't just think about yourself," he said.

As if to underline his point about the importance of valuing the community's needs and not simply one's own, he opted to forego the $40,000 honorarium, appearing at the graduation event for free.

Though Schwarzenegger ran for and held office as a Republican, albeit a centrist one, he has lately clashed with various forces in his party. In this speech, he seems to be echoing the progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who told an audience, in what came to be known as her 2011 "You didn't build that" speech, that "there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody."

Indeed, some viewers saw implicit rebukes of President Donald Trump in the former Governor's speech. Marketplace reports: "During the 20 plus-minute speech, Schwarzenegger never once mentioned President Trump by name, but criticized much of what Trump stands for. Trump's presidential campaign was based on the premise that he is a successful, self-made businessman who was going to run the government as a business."

Schwarzenegger did sound a very different note from the one the President usually strikes when he encouraged graduates not to focus on themselves. Instead, he said, "give something back to your community. Make sure it's not about ME, it's about WE."