WASHINGTON (AP) _ Hillary Rodham Clinton took one look into the sea of umbrellas and soaking wet graduates and made a fast change of plan. She scrapped 11 pages of prepared remarks, offered some quick advice and sent the Howard University graduates on their way.

``I am deeply privileged to be here, but I think in light of the circumstances this will not be an oration,'' the first lady said Saturday to the crowd of 2,000 drenched students, their friends and families.

Clad in a black cap and gown, Mrs. Clinton pointed to Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as examples of ``learning to forgive'' and cited the words of Winston Churchill, who _on a sunny day_ once simply told a graduating class, ``Never, never, never, give up'' and sat down.

The first lady also urged the students not to take for granted acts of kindness.

``From my own experience, one of the ways to get through the good and the not-so-good days that lie ahead of you, as with any human being, is to learn the discipline of gratitude,'' she said. ``Find something to be grateful for every single day.''

Mrs. Clinton shook hands with graduates, after herself receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university. Officials from Howard, a historically black university, also saluted Mrs. Clinton for her two recent trips to Africa.

She is a ``portrait of a true and selfless humanitarian,'' Howard University president H. Patrick Swygert said.

The first lady, drawing laughter from those who got the abridged version, also offered to distribute her full written remarks to the university ``for anybody who thinks they might have missed something that I've cut out.''