Friday, May 12, 2023
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
Over 1,000 of our bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. students will graduate this weekend during our commencement ceremonies tonight and tomorrow. These events constitute one of the greatest defining moments for our graduates and their families. A defining moment of transition that offers reason to be hopeful about the future, that yesterday’s dream has become today’s reality, and that what we can dream today will become tomorrow’s reality. To our graduates, I say, congratulations – but you are not done! It is now time to envision a future and then create it.
One of the greatest rewards of sending my Friday messages has been the feedback I receive from so many of our alumni who write to share their experiences as students and to tell me how their Rolla education led them to great successes in their lives and careers. So many of them express how S&T’s culture of value creation paved the way to their success. They almost always highlight the most important ingredient of their path to success: their network!
Regardless of how talented, hardworking and persuasive one might be, we all need help if we are to achieve tasks bigger than ourselves where we can make critical contributions to critical challenges. Our ability to connect with others is essential, and our network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances can help us make those key connections. As graduates, you have already established an expandable network of your college friends, professors, project teammates, Greek brothers and sisters, and more. The network that will prove to be golden over the years. Perhaps just as important is expanding your network to include our alumni and Academies, with whom you have years of common, albeit time-scattered, experiences. The alumni networking will be available to you immediately upon graduation through your membership in the Miner Alumni Association.
I also find that the key to our alumni success has been remaining a “student,” a keen observer and seeker of truth. They learned that wisdom is acknowledging that they don’t have all the answers and that learning requires asking questions. Amazingly, but understandably, the most successful have been those who sought to understand the needs of others and helped them achieve their goals. And in the process, they grew, were elevated by others and achieved their own aspirations. They walked side-by-side with others, and understood the value of teamwork, networking and cultivating goodwill.
You see, the most successful are also the most adventurous and entrepreneurial. They venture beyond their familiar knowledge base but utilize their skills, knowledge and abilities to offer better solutions in fields adjacent to their own. They find silver linings of opportunity in the crisis clouds. The successful are not only out-of-the-box thinkers, they often deny there ever exists a box! They view their achievements as their ticket to bigger opportunities and are never constrained by their education, discipline, degree or experience. They seek vulnerability, use their analytical abilities and consider every day a new beginning for greater adventure.
For now, in the final moments and as we end Teacher Appreciation Week this week, don’t forget to take a moment to sincerely thank all those who believed in you and helped you achieve your dream of graduation. Let them know that your appreciation is deeply felt and tell them how rock-solid their support has been for your success.
Congratulations on your life-enhancing achievement, take time to soak it all in, feel the joy of this defining moment and embrace the exciting future that you have envisioned and will soon create.
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