Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ’88 urged students to help the city and “be the angels of the City of Angels” as the Brown Family Speaker at an assembly March 23.
“In many ways you are on the most beautiful island there is: Harvard-Westlake, but it is not isolated, and you must swim to shore every single day,” Garcetti said.
He encouraged students to volunteer for local organizations such as non-profit tutoring program Bridge to a Brighter Future, and he shared stories of how his time volunteering in high school gave him the skills to run the city, specifically citing his work at Tree People and on Skid Row.
“Whether you want to end veterans’ homelessness or help other high school students graduate and attain a higher education, you will find meaningful opportunities everywhere,” he said.
Garcetti cited poverty as a primary area of concern in Los Angeles.
“We ask at some schools, ‘how long do you expect to live?’ and the students, they raise their hands and say ‘25, 26,'” he said. Today, we are in a position to change that.”
Garcetti discussed how his education at the Harvard School and the teachers he had shaped the person he is today. Former mayor Tom Bradley spoke at the school when Garcetti was a student, and Garcetti said the speech inspired him to get into politics.
“I remember sitting down with my friends and feeling something,” he said. “Feeling a connection not with just the campus, but with the city, that we weren’t an island here on this campus. And I felt a sense of responsibility.”
Garcetti shared other memories from his time at Harvard School and thanked his former teachers and a group of his classmates that attended the assembly.
“Without question I would not be mayor today of the largest city in the largest state of the greatest nation on the face of the Earth if it wasn’t for what I learned on this campus,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti also touted his policies and progress on issues such as reducing homeless veterans and restoring the Los Angeles River.
President Rick Commons introduced the mayor by focusing on his accomplishments both before and during his time as mayor. He read from a letter of recommendation that Dean Vanna Cairns wrote about Garcetti when he was a student.
After his speech, students asked Garcetti questions about his policies, role models and the possibility of an NFL team coming to Los Angeles.