Mayor Daley challenged Northwestern University graduates to maintain their principles and make the nation and world better.
Some students had objected to Daley's selection as speaker at Northwestern's 150th commencement. But he was applauded during his address and praised by students afterward.
"There are so many children who desperately need your help. I ask you to read to them, tutor them, mentor them. There is nothing more important that you will do in your life than helping a child in need," said Daley.
"it's just, get your education, do the best you can, start anywhere. And as a person, I was a high school graduate, it meant a lot to me," said Jade Maze, graduate.
Northwestern awarded Daley an honorary doctor of laws degree and said he has earned a reputation as the nation's top mayor.
Northwestern graduates arrived at Ryan Field Friday night well aware that their commencement speaker has sparked a campus debate.
"I think he's a great mayor," said Henry Grimaldo, economics graduate. "No, actually, I'm honored."
"I'm not from Chicago, so Mayor Daley is just like, mayor," said Jason Okonofua, Psychology/African Studies graduate.
So, given that, some students criticized the school's choice, saying the mayor was lame and a huge disappointment.
"Students will say a lot of things.....them on substance," daley said.
In fact, the student body wrote a letter to the mayor, apologizing, for their comments.
"They were insulting to you and, by extension, the entire city of Chicago. We most deeply and sincerely apologize to you and the people of your city for our inappropriate conduct," it said.
In the past, students heard from Senator Barack Obama. Last year, it was actress Julia Louis Dreyfus.
"I'm glad it's someone in politics. I hope he touches on that and the upcoming elections," said Natalia Szadkowski.
"He is resilient and that takes a lot of resilience to do that," said Ernest Wallace, History graduate.