Stan Carpenter, chancellor of the Nebraska State College System, told the graduates of Chadron State College to embrace change as they begin life as bachelor’s degree holders.
Carpenter, who supervises the operation of Chadron State, Peru State and Wayne State Colleges, interspersed both humorous and serious points as he spoke to the capacity crowd in the Amrstrong Physical Education Building on Saturday, May 5.
He told the graduates that, as new degree holders, they may be primed for new experiences, but that they will likely find comfort in “the familiar” as time goes on. He cautioned them to keep an open mind to change, and said that people who resist it often become bullies in the workplace.
“You can’t imagine the number of times I have heard, ‘But, we have always done it that way,’” Carpenter said. “I beg you, don’t ever say that. It was Albert Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Don’t let that apply to you. Don’t get stuck in a rut.”
To make his point, the chancellor told about the advancements of 1971, the year he earned his bachelor’s degree. They include the right to vote for 18-year-olds, the first pocket calculator and soft contact lenses.
“Can you imagine where we would be today if no one challenged the belief that the world was flat? Or that it was impossible to fly?”
Carpenter also reassured the graduates that they are on the right path. He said they were wise in their decision to earn their degrees, and quoted statistics of earning power of college graduates compared to others.
“Recent research indicates that a bachelor’s degree results in a person earning $1.6 million more in a 40-year career. That is $40,000 more per year than someone with only a high school diploma. And while I am at it, research indicates that as college graduates, you will participate in more leisure activities and also save more of your earnings.”
Regarding the importance of career choice, Carpenter passed along a message from a commencement speech that was delivered by the late Steve Jobs. He told the graduates that the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what they believe is great work.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” he said.
Carpenter also told the meaning of graduation ceremonies, and their history dating back to Harvard’s first in 1642.
“The ceremony today, here at Chadron, is our way of recognizing the time and energy you have invested along with the hard work it took to get you to this celebration,” he said.
CSC conferred bachelor’s degrees to 244 graduates during the ceremony, which was the second of the day's two commencement exercises. In addition to Carpenter’s address, graduates Christine Aye of Rangoon, Burma, and James Bahensky of Anselmo, delivered “moments of reflection.”
In opening the address, Carpenter thanked CSC President Janie Park, who is retiring effective May 11. She presided over CSC’s commencement activities for the final time Saturday.
He also spoke of the beauty of the Pine Ridge region, which he said is enhanced by presence of CSC.
“Different from the eastern part of the state, the hills, the bluffs, the timber – and especially the lack of humidity – remind me of the greatness of this part of Nebraska,” he said.
—Justin Haag, CSC Information Services