Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delivers a speech after receiving an honorary degree during commencement services on the campus of Brown University, Sunday, May 29, 2022, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asked Brown University graduates Sunday to “hold on to your hope,” even when faced with the current darkness in the world.

“Amid the darkness, it would be easy to descend into apathy or despair. But we can’t. We can’t,” Pelosi said at the Ivy League school in Providence.

The California Democrat referenced the “senseless” shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York — as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the looming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, and voter suppression.

“You’re graduating into a vastly different world,” she said, and commended students for their bravery and resilience.

“Hope remains democracy’s most powerful weapon against oppression, against cynicism, against hatred,” she said.

Referencing President Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to unite the country during “one of America’s darkest hours,” Pelosi called on the graduates “to help summon the better angels of our nature to help heal America’s fractured soul.”

Pelosi was the principal speaker for the Class of 2022 commencement ceremony and one of nine people to receive an honorary degree during the three-day commencement weekend. Recording artist Shaggy was also honored Saturday for his work as a musician and a philanthropist.