Recently I had the opportunity to participate in commencement ceremonies on each of the University of Nebraska’s campuses. To the 6,500 students with new credentials from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska-Lincoln or Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture; to their family members, friends and mentors who helped them along the way; and to the thousands of others graduating from state, community and private colleges this spring: Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished. You should be proud of the hard work you’ve put in to get to this point.
For me there is no time quite like commencement. Watching our students walk across that stage, seeing the look of pride on their faces, hearing the cheers of their supporters, knowing they’re about to begin a new chapter of their lives – these are some of the greatest joys of my job. Celebrating these moments with students is an inspiring reminder of why I’ve chosen to spend my career in education.
I know from firsthand experience the transformative effect a college degree can have on a person’s life. Growing up, I never imagined I would someday address the Class of 2015 as president of one of America’s great universities. But higher education opened doors for me that I wouldn’t have thought possible. I believe it will do the same for students earning their degrees today.
Each of this year’s graduates has a unique story about how they achieved this milestone.
“I know from firsthand experience the transformative effect a college degree can have on a person’s life…Higher education opened doors for me that I wouldn’t have thought possible. I believe it will do the same for students earning their degrees today.”
Some are the first in their families to finish college – and they are due a special congratulations. I understand the unique challenges faced by first-generation students and the University of Nebraska is working hard to make sure many more of them have the resources they need to be successful.
Other graduates were new to Nebraska when they began their college careers – indeed, our student body represents all 50 states and more than 130 countries – and we hope they will consider staying here to begin careers or raise families.
Many students had the chance to participate in internships, study abroad, service learning or extracurricular activities that enriched their educational experience and helped prepare them for life and work.
I hope all of the graduates were able to find their passion, be it agriculture, teaching, health care, fine arts, entrepreneurship, science, math or something else.
Most of all, I hope each of them developed the skills that create a foundation for success no matter what path they choose next: a curiosity about the world around them; the ability to think critically; a sense of humility and compassion for others. And I hope they have learned to dream big. That is one of the greatest gifts a University of Nebraska education provides to our students: the opportunity to dream big.
Congratulations again to the Class of 2015. I am proud of each of you. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.