May 3, 2014
The only thing standing between you and your degree is me — so I’m going to make this short. But there are a few things I want to share:
On behalf of West Virginia University, I am delighted to congratulate the Golden Bear Class of 2014.
Having served as president at about half the universities in this country, I have conferred more degrees than just about anyone on the planet.
But each time I look out into a sea of graduates’ happy, hopeful faces, I feel as excited as I did on my own college graduation day (46 years ago). I remember everything but what the speaker said.
My deepest thanks to Campus President Carolyn Long for inviting me to share this special day with you.
I know that the words “Infinite Possibilities” mean something special on this campus. Those words are especially fitting today, because every Commencement ceremony is a celebration of infinite possibilities.
Your degree opens a new universe of opportunities. And the hard work you put in here has prepared you to shoot for the stars.
In your time at WVU Tech, you have endured and persevered through every test.
You challenged yourselves in every conceivable way.
You navigated through requirements and electives.
You discovered talents you never knew you possessed.
You gained mentors, found friends, and made memories that will last a lifetime.
You have worked tirelessly for years with this day in mind.
Take some time today to feel proud of what you have accomplished. I know your families and friends are proud of you.
Your professors are also proud of you and excited to see you succeed.
They have helped to open your minds, broaden your horizons, and strengthen your abilities.
Now, it is up to you. Whether you are preparing to continue your education or launch your career, I truly believe you can go as far as your dreams take you.
I therefore send you forth with a few words of advice.
So here goes:
Never wear flip flops to a job interview.
Obey the better angels of your nature.
Like the Lannisters from Game of Thrones, always pay your debts. (Note: Do not emulate the Lannisters in any other way.)
And complain less.
Keep in touch with your old friends. It is easier than ever these days.
But stop Snapchat’ing and Instagram’ing long enough to make new friends, too.
Enjoy the little things. One day you will look back and realize they were big things.
Growing up does not mean you cannot act like a kid now and then — so grab a Nerf blaster and play Humans versus Zombies once in a while.
Your life will not always go according to plan … and that is okay. As author Wally Lamb said: “Sometimes when you go looking for what you want, you run right in to what you need.”
Remember to say “thank you.”
Remember to smile.
Remember that life’s best memories will not revolve around the hours you spend at your job, so surround yourself with loved ones.
Remember to breathe.