Courtesy of Mary Knox Merrill

Colin Powell addressed Northeastern’s Class of 2012 yesterday, assuring the 3,200 seniors sitting before him, “Wherever you go, whatever path you follow, you have been well prepared by the rigorous education you received at Northeastern.”

Touching upon his 35 years in the U.S. Army, the importance of educating America’s youth and how today’s graduates can change the world, the former secretary of state filled the room with laughter, passion and inspiration.

“We can’t sit around waiting for Superman to come save the day,” Powell said. “We, the people, are the super men and super women. We are the deciders, so make yourself smart about the issues. […] Don’t stand on the sidelines. Vote.”

Despite the uncertainty of the future, Powell ensured the class that the world is changing for the better. And when facing the future, he remarked, “Always focus on finding that which you do well and that which you love doing. […] Do something that gives you satisfaction every day.”

Northeastern President Joseph Aoun shared his own words of wisdom with the graduating class, encouraging them to follow three principles that he said have guided him in life, according to Northeastern: “Surround yourself with people who are ahead of you; don’t be afraid to scare yourself; and understand that community gives life and meaning to your promise.”

Aoun said to treat their degree as their ticket to explore the world and question what they find. “Take risks and confront challenges,” he said. “Explore new ideas and cultures not your own, just as you did here at Northeastern.”

Throughout the ceremony, students were tweeting with the hashtag #NU2012, getting it to trend here in Boston. One student wrote, “Wow, what a ride,” while another remarked, “I already miss everything about Northeastern. It was an amazing experience, I can’t believe it’s already over.”

From here, it’s as Powell said: “Let your dreams be your only limitation.”

Northeastern put together a video of yesterday’s ceremonies, which you can watch below. Another proud parent also recorded all of Powell’s speech, so you can also listen to the full audio. Congratulations, Huskies!