Friday, December 15, 2023

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

It is hard to believe that commencement has already arrived when it was just “yesterday” when I wrote my welcoming note to our incoming students and highlighted our convocation. Nonetheless, we are celebrating graduation and our students, soon-to-be alumni, are commencing a new journey. To our graduates, I say, congratulations for your achievement and the deserving gratification that you feel. Judging by the success of so many of our rainmaker alumni, your exciting journey of leadership, whether you will be the leader of three or 3,000, or even if you lead your own career, begins when you will lead the transformation of people and ideas.

You will find out soon that your education and dedicated hard work here at S&T have prepared you for your long journey of continual learning and leadership. As a team leader, you will also remain a member of other teams, perhaps your company’s executive team, your community’s organizing team, your professional society’s planning team or your alma mater’s board of trustees. You will also realize that you are well-prepared, if not better prepared than your counterparts. You will be proud of yourself, your parents for their support, your professors for challenging you, and all our support staff who helped and ensured your success. As talented and well-prepared as you are, you will not be able to achieve your worthy objectives by yourself. You need to establish and strengthen your network and enlist their support. You will realize that leadership is really “WEadership” and that you must carry everyone along with you if you are to get to your destination. At times, you will feel that you can traverse “the field” faster and that you are sacrificing precious time minding the progress of others on the team. But as the African Proverb famously says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Our commencement speakers will share the importance of “WEadership” in leading their careers after their graduation from S&T. This year, we are honored to host our own alumni as speakers: Mr. Thomas Sonderman, CEO of SkyWater, and Dr. Frederick K. Baganoff, scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

Did I say networking? You have a great network established here at S&T already and you will be well-served to keep your connections with your classmates, housemates, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters, your professors, and others who you trust. Your success is proportionally related to the help and advice you will receive from others. Your success also depends on broadening your perspective regardless of your field of study. Often, achievements beyond the ordinary are hidden along tangents to your field of study and not necessarily directly on it. “Rainmakers” among us sense the broader environment, examine the success of others, ask “what if” questions and become possibility thinkers.

The successes of our possibility thinker alumni have been recognized broadly and by national publications such as the New York Times, “There’s Only One College Rankings List That Matters,” and by the Wall Street Journal’s Best Colleges in the United States ranking.

Near term, you, our graduates, do remarkably well at the start of your careers. Our latest annual outcomes report shows that the undergraduate and graduate starting salaries have increased to record levels and are higher than any university in the state, proof that S&T graduates are street-ready engineers, scientists, teachers or whichever career path they pursue.

To all who will cross the graduation stage and transition from students to alumni, I offer my sincere congratulations. I speak from experience as I have clear recollections of my first day as a freshman at LSU and my last day when I walked away with a Ph.D. I went from student to alumnus and have been grateful for the institution that nurtured me all those years ago.

You and all your contemporaries will hear your name in a place that has become your home. The sound of your name will echo for years in this place that is full of beginnings and endings and many memory-making events in between. After all, this is the home that you sought, were excited about and now, despite leaving it, you cannot turn away from it. It will remain your “home” where all the memories will serve you well into your career and beyond.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

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