Woodbury College Graduation
President Mandell, Dean Anderson, Trustees, Faculty, Graduates and honored guests, it is an extraordinary honor to be asked to address Woodbury College's 23rd graduating class. Let me begin with my congratulations.
First, to the families. We all know that the graduates would not be here except for your love, your commitment to them and except for the many sacrifices that, undoubtedly, each one of you -parents - spouses and children have made.
Second, let us congratulate Woodbury College, which has dedicated itself to creating a unique and supportive learning environment that encourages its students to step beyond previous limitations of knowledge and ability. The faculty has not only helped the graduates to learn about the world and prepare for a chosen career or develop critical work skills, but they have also nurtured these graduates through a process of self-learning and personal growth. And you know - an education at Woodbury College really works. We see Woodbury graduates everywhere in Vermont - from the Supreme Court Bench to small business owners. Perhaps the most important thing that Woodbury offers its students is the belief that they can take risks - and that those risks can lead to significant positive changes in their lives.
Finally, to you, the graduates of this class, I give special congratulations. Earlier, I spoke of an education "offered to you." But really, we know that nothing that you learned over the past years had been handed to you. Really, of course, it was just an opportunity that was offered - the opportunity to educate yourself - to learn and to grow. And we know that making the most of that opportunity was not always easy for you. Graduating classes at Woodbury look a bit different than graduating classes of most institutions of higher learning in Vermont. For one thing, not many of you are 21 years old. In fact, most of you began or returned to school mid-career - or mid-life. Most of you have jobs, families and other responsibilities. However, you have brought to your educational experience not just an already over-busy life. You brought an openness to learn new things and the incredibly valuable perspective of your life's experiences. You were not only student, but also teacher to your classmates. This day signifies the culmination of that experience of learning and teaching. It provides you with an opportunity to appreciate the connections you have made with your teachers and classmates and to reflect upon the lessons you have learned.
What have you learned? No matter which program you were in - Paralegal studies, Mediation/Conflict resolution, Prevention and Community development or Essential Career Skills - there are 3 things that I believe that each of you take home with you today - in addition to your diploma or certificate.
The key to whether an education was successful is not found simply in the courses you studied or the tests you took - rather, it is whether you were provided that spark - that love of learning that will carry you for a lifetime. After all, how you score on a final exam is much less important than how you score on the test of life.
At every stage of life, each of you has the opportunity and capacity to do so much good for this world we live in. I thank you now for the contributions you will make in our lives, and I greet you at the beginning of a wonderful new career. May it be tough. May it be demanding. May it force you to grow and mature day by day. May it be interesting.
I wish for each of you every success, and that you take the lessons you have learned over your years at Woodbury, and use them to make your life and the lives of those around you better. That you live your whole life in the pursuit of knowledge and that you prosper and grow as you meet the challenges and opportunities that life has to offer.
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