After addressing students and faculty at Rutgers University-Camden’s 2015 graduation Thursday, rocker and New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi performed a song he wrote specifically for the audience of 1,749 graduates.
The University awarded Bon Jovi an honorary doctorate of letters, recognizing his music and film career and, most notably, his history of philanthropy focused on homelessness and poverty.
“Maybe you’ve already have [sic] your life mapped out — whether it’s the corner office, or philanthropy or music,” he told students. “But, if not, that’s OK.”
The “Bad Medicine” singer then told of founding the Philadelphia Soul arena football team, which then inspired him to create the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation after he saw a homeless man on the street through a window in 2006.
“I didn’t need a scientist to find the cure,” he told the students. “I needed someone to help me help those in need.”
“For me, the issue of hunger and homeless feels right,” he added. “But for you, maybe it’s something different. Be that change you want to see.”
He also said the United States imprisons too many people for minor crimes and must recognize its history of slavery and racial injustice, then debuted a new song, titled “Reunion,” which he presented as a gift to the graduates.
“‘Reunion’ asks graduates to “write your song” and “start your own revolution.”
Watch the entire speech above, where the musical performance begins at about the 15:00 mark.