(CNN) - Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' advice to college graduates on Saturday was the same she offered senators earlier this year as they prepared to consider gun-related legislation.
"Be bold. Be courageous," she advised graduates of Bard College in New York, repeating the words of her brief January testimony before the Judiciary Committee. "Be your best."
Giffords, who was shot in the head at a January 2011 event in her congressional district, has spoken publicly only a few times and appeared at the commencement ceremonies to receive an honorary degree. She resigned her congressional seat to focus on her recovery and her former chief of staff won election to the seat.
"Graduates, your future shines bright," Giffords said. "Find you purpose and go for it. Starting tomorrow, you can change the world. The nation is counting on you ... to create, to lead, to innovate."
Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, spoke before her and urged the graduates to be ambitious.
He also criticized advocates for gun rights, charging "they've forgotten what they used to stand for" and now represent the interests of gun manufacturers rather than gun owners like he and his wife.
The college conferred 470 undergraduate and 175 graduate degrees on Saturday. It is located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.