Commencement: a time to say thank you

May 28, 2014

A column by SBHE Board Chair Kirsten Diederich

A column by SBHE Board Chair Kirsten Diederich

I had the opportunity recently to represent the State Board of Higher Education at two North Dakota University System commencements – Dakota College at Bottineau, Mayville State University, and I was honored to be the Commencement speaker at Lake Region State College. Dr. Terry Hjelmstad, Don Morton, Dr. Doug Munski, Kathy Neset, and Kari Reichert also represented the Board at one or more commencements across the system.

I look forward to attending these ceremonies because it allows me to see the successes of our institutions firsthand. There is nothing more gratifying than interacting with the students, faculty, staff, families and communities as they celebrate these wonderful occasions.

The following is an excerpt from my address to Lake Region graduates and really expresses my feelings about serving on the Board and about how much we need our graduates – their ideas, their hopes, their dreams — if we are to continue to be a strong state and nation:

“I am grateful that you chose to continue your education in North Dakota. Our institutions are working diligently to make sure students like you are prepared to fulfill their greatest potential. I encourage you to take that next step into the future and embrace the opportunities that lie before you as a college graduate. You have been well prepared to make a lasting impact on this state and beyond.

“Most importantly, don’t ever lose sight of your dreams. As Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” By coming to Lake Region and committing yourself to furthering your education, you are now better prepared to pursue a career or continue your education than ever before. Step into the future with confidence, and I know that your dreams will help make North Dakota, America, and the world a better place.

“We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with you and learn from you during your education journey. So, today, instead of congratulating you, I want to thank you.

“Thank you for choosing Lake Region State College and the North Dakota University System for your education. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. And thank you for everything that you will do for all of us as you make your own dreams come true.”