Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony May 2, 2009
Right now, I bet some
of you are sitting there asking yourself several different questions.
- What will I do now?
- Where will I be living next?
- When is he going to stop talking?
Moms and dads are probably asking
- Will my son or daughter finally get a job?
The only one of those questions I can answer is — I’m almost done!
As for the other questions, each of you must find your own individual
answers, but i can tell you a few things. First, you have earned an education
that is second to none. It was shared with you by a cadre of outstanding faculty
members who were dedicated to supporting you in this dream.
You have had opportunities outside the classroom to learn about your world,
and yourselves and to lead others. Leadership will be critical to your
Sixth century B.C. philosopher Lao Tzu said, “To lead people, walk beside
them ... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The
next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next,
the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did
For some that leadership and learning came from one of our co-curricular
groups. For others, it was on the competitive fields of intercollegiate
athletics. For others it was in working with your peers and faculty on research
Among the many things you have learned here at Ship is that our
world is changing, and you must change with it. The job you may soon start will
be far from your only job during your lifetime. To help you, we have provided
you with a large set of knowledge, skills, and abilities. We have also taught
you how to learn. The life-long skill of learning will serve you well as we all
await the new innovations that are yet to come. These skills will also provide
you with the courage you need in this ever-challenging world.
Eleanor Roosevelt said in her book You Learn by Living,
“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do
not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing
that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, and discovering we
have the strength to stare it down.”
You have also learned the importance of service to others and to your
community. You are the human infrastructure upon which our future is built, and
you are indeed a strong foundation.
And you have learned that we are very
proud of you. From this member of the ship family, thank you for making this a
memorable day, and thank you for making Shippensburg University the wonderful
place it is.