Friday, Nov. 5, 2021
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
Alumni of Influence!?
From exploring outer space, to mining deep earth, to treating incurable disease, to creating new knowledge, to revolutionizing American business, to educating our youth, to defending our nation, to building hospitals, schools, hotels and houses of worship, to countless other contributions, our alumni have influenced the world.
And we all know who they are. Men and women who have been the impetus for something much bigger than themselves. Catalytic leaders who became creators and contributors. Rainmakers who provided critical contributions to critical challenges facing the community, the country, the world and humanity.
Tomorrow, a group of faculty, staff, students and alumni will tip our hats to 12 of our most influential alumni for their remarkable achievements and service during our third Alumni of Influence gala.
The Alumni of Influence celebration will be an elegant and moving tribute to our honorees, and it is especially fitting that it coincides with the official 150th anniversary of our first day of classes.
It really is remarkable how so many S&T graduates have made such an impact on the world through their possibility thinking, innovative approaches to addressing challenges and unyielding desire to make our world a better place. From Gary White, who co-founded water.org with actor Matt Damon to bring safe drinking water and sanitation systems to millions worldwide, to Cindy Tang, whose advocacy for women in academia led to S&T’s Woman of the Year Award, to the late Ed Tuck, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur who created the first hand-held GPS, and to Sandra Magnus, one of three graduates who became NASA astronauts, and whose accomplishments include living on the International Space Station and flying on the final space shuttle mission, S&T alumni improve our world and our lives in it.
Reading about their achievement, I am reminded of their steadfastness, courage and relentless pursuit of purpose to influence their environment and to make a difference. At the same time, I am filled with joy and pride for how they created something bigger than themselves.
As I think about this weekend’s event and the individuals we will honor, I also can’t help but think about how all graduates of this institution are also Alumni of Influence.
Just this past week on a flight, I was sitting on an aisle row and (I admit) trying to protect the middle seat when a nice lady asked if she could sit there. I was in fact composing this note when she noticed and asked if I worked at S&T. She became animated when I said yes and went on to tell me that she graduated from our biology program many years ago. When I asked if she works in that field, she said no, but she instead works in a law firm that enables clients to prepare health care documentation. “I love what I do because I get to help many of our needy clients,” she said. I thought to myself: she is an alumna of influence. If you are reading this note right now, I hope you’ll reply!
I’ve heard that the average person influences as many as 10,000 others during their lifetime. Imagine that! And it’s up to us to manage the nature of that influence.
To our students, I say have no doubt that your S&T education will pay tremendous dividends and make a world of difference. I know, because countless alumni have told me that S&T taught them how to solve problems, overcome challenges and learn how to learn.
So, please join me in celebrating the latest class of our Alumni of Influence. But please also join me in celebrating each of you for your impact and influence on at least 10,000 others.
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