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I’d like to add my welcome to all of the families, friends and special guests here today. We’re always proud to show off both our students and our campus. It’s especially gratifying to see that so many loved ones could join us for today’s celebration. Your caring and support have made this day possible, and all of us at Humboldt State appreciate your efforts. Will all of the family and friends of our graduates please stand for a round of applause? Graduates, let’s give them a hand. Graduates of 2012 … Thank you for being our students. I am impressed by your commitment, your service and your spirit of caring. This institution has been enhanced by what you have accomplished. We are better for having known you, and I am honored to stand before you to congratulate you on this major milestone. At this time, I’d like to ask all the graduates to stand for a well-earned round of applause. Graduates … Feel good about today. It is your day. You earned it and you deserve it. For most of you, the achievement we celebrate today was both a personal and a financial challenge. For all of you, I am confident that the education you earned will serve you well in your future. It is my pleasure to acknowledge today a special group of graduates of whom we are most proud. The California State University and HSU in particular have recognized the obligation we have to provide support for students who are also military veterans. We do so with our office of Veterans Enrollment and Transition Services. Would all the veterans who are graduating today please stand and receive our recognition for their student accomplishments and for their service to our country. You are all now part of the legacy of this institution, a learning community nearly a century in the making. As a class, you exemplify the unique qualities of an HSU student. Your commitment to social change and environmental responsibility is an inspiration. You set a wonderful example for others, including myself. The Graduation Pledge, which many of you will make today, is just one of many examples. It was created by HSU students like you, and has since spread around the world. It reads in part:
“I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.” As you move to the next stage of your life, I hope you are able to continue living those ideals. Our world needs more people who care about making a difference. On that note, I want to ask you to take a moment now to do something for California. I know that many of you – and many of your guests – have smartphones with you today. So for just a few minutes, maybe stop taking photos of family and friends, and let’s put them to different use. Let’s all send a message to our legislators and our governor. Let’s tell them what a great day we are having at Humboldt at the graduation of these students, and insist that they support higher education so future students have the same opportunities. They need a message from you. Here is what I want you do, and I will do it with you. On your phone web browser, or later today on a computer, visit Humboldt.edu/advocate (“humboldt-dot-e-d-u-backslashadvocate”). That is our advocacy website. Click on the action called: “Send Sacramento a Graduation Message!” Then follow directions – you can use the message that’s there or write your own. I wrote mine earlier. It says: Greetings from Humboldt State University. I am currently standing in front of hundreds of graduating students, as well as their faculty and thousands of proud friends and family members. It is the best day of my year. I see hope and promise for our future, and one of the best investments that California can make. We need to make this possible for more students, for their sake and for the prosperity of our state. Please wake up and make public higher education a priority. Then there is a paragraph about how funding for California State University has seriously declined. How if we lose another $200 million this fall, as threatened, state support for the CSU will be at 1996 levels. Throw in inflation and 90,000 more students, and you can see we have a serious problem. When you are done, go to the bottom – I already filled in my name and other information – and push “send message.” Here goes my message … (pause to push send on phone) I hope you will take the time to do this. It is so important that our elected leaders hear from you about the value of higher education. We have seen really extreme budget cuts and the resulting tuition hikes, so we know the message has not gotten through. Also, I hope you will consider supporting the tax measure that will likely be on the fall ballot. If it fails, the governor’s budget calls for a mid-year cut of $200 million for the CSU.
Okay, enough of that … Part of what I enjoy about working at a university filled with students such as you is that I’m never fully discouraged by the challenges or bad news in our world. You are, frankly, a large dose of hope for our often difficult reality and I thank you for that. Our world needs you. If you can challenge and push and prod elsewhere as you have done here, we’ll all be better off. Our nation … our democracy … depends upon that kind of willingness to try to make things better. I hope that the education you received here has given you the desire to keep questioning and the tools to keep learning throughout your life. I hope that you have made the discovery that I made nearly four decades ago: Learning is not only useful, but a lot of fun as well. Please keep in touch and stay involved with Humboldt State. I hope to see you back visiting our beautiful campus, and I am sure your professors look forward to hearing about your life and accomplishments. We gauge our own success by following yours. Please also consider joining your Alumni Association. If you purchased your cap and gown at the HSU Bookstore, you received a postcard for an introductory membership in the Humboldt Alumni Association. Be sure to turn in this card to activate this membership. It is a great way to keep connected to Humboldt State and to help ensure that the next generation of students receives the same extraordinary college experience. Once again, congratulations to the class of 2012. All of us at Humboldt State wish you the very best in life. May you have prosperity as you define it, years of joy and an abundance of laughter. At this time, it is my honor and privilege to introduce our Commencement speaker, Bryan Kelly. Bryan is a Political Science major in the Class of ’12 and is the Associated Students President at Humboldt State University. The Associated Students represents the students on campus and provides many of the programs and services we are all so proud of at HSU—such as the Graduation Pledge Alliance (represented by the green ribbons you see many of our graduates wearing) and the Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program (the program, along with Take Back the Tap, responsible for the reduced waste event that you are experiencing here today). Bryan is a natural leader. During his time here, he has fostered several campus-wide relationships. As with many outstanding leaders, he has been the catalyst for many initiatives.
· He conceived of the idea of the Student Trust Fund Committee of Humboldt State University. The purpose of the fund is to raise money that will support students through scholarships and grants. · Through Bryan’s leadership and efforts, the students participated and financially supported the Veterans Awareness Week at HSU. · He was instrumental in the resounding success of the HSU Pep Rally last fall. It was his effort and determination that propelled hundreds of students to gather on the University Quad on the night of September 7 to support campus spirit and the football team. · And he has taken a personal interest in developing a student-led community garden on campus. I'm certain this level of commitment is motivated by the fact that Bryan truly believes in what he is doing and in the impact students can have if they care enough to make a difference. I believe he does so much because he wants to serve and give back as much as he can. He has made a solid contribution to HSU. I am pleased to present to you … Bryan Kelly.
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