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Commencement speakers encourage graduates to take risks

May 9, 2016

Chadron State College graduate commencement speaker, Dr. Wendy Waugh,  professor of business. (Photo by Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College) Chadron State College graduate commencement speaker, Dr. Wendy Waugh, professor of business. (Photo by Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College)
Chris Carlisle, undergraduate commencement speaker, Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Seattle Seahawks strength and conditioning coach, interacts with the audience from the platform. (Photo by Alex Helmbrecht/Chadron State College)
Chris Carlisle, undergraduate commencement speaker, Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Seattle Seahawks strength and conditioning coach, interacts with the audience from the platform. (Photo by Alex Helmbrecht/Chadron State College)

CHADRON – Saturday was a special day at Chadron State College for the college and its most recent graduates. Ninety graduates earned their master’s degrees and 235 earned their bachelor’s degrees.

The graduate ceremony at Memorial Hall’s Auditorium began at 8 a.m. with Commencement speaker Dr. Wendy Waugh, professor of business, and the undergraduate ceremony was at 10 a.m. in the Chicoine Center with Chris Carlisle a 2016 Chadron State College Distinguished Alumni recipient, as the speaker. He has been the strength and conditioning coach for the Seattle Seahawks since 2010.

In her address, Waugh challenged the graduates to make the most of every opportunity they encounter, take chances and stretch out of their comfort zones.

Waugh shared tips she said she found helpful in her journey. She urged the graduates to avoid negativity, even their own, recognize their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

She reassured the graduates failure is nothing to fear, rather it is a learning opportunity.

“Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from saying ‘yes.’ Failure ensures your eventual success,” she said. “Go out and find you place in the world. Don’t stop until you know what you’re doing, believe in what you’re doing, and love what you’re doing.”

When life experiences are disappointing or discouraging, Waugh advised graduates to keep moving forward and remain positive. She urged them to seize each moment and celebrate the day’s success.

She pointed out that less than nine percent of the U.S. population have a master’s degree, emphasizing the significance of the achievement.

Prior to Waugh’s address, the opening moment of reflection for the graduate ceremony was offered by E.J. Kreis, IV, of Longmont, Colorado. The closing moment of reflection was offered by Victoria Volkman of Ponca, Nebraska.

The undergraduate commencement ceremony included a surprise announcement of Bruce Hoem, professor of social work, as the 2016 Nebraska State College System Teaching Excellence Award recipient. He is the fourth NSCS Teaching Excellence Award recipient in five years from CSC.

Also included in the program was the commissioning of Army cadet Kassie VanDiest of Dunning, Nebraska, as a second lieutenant.

Carlisle, commencement speaker and 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, addressed a packed house. He is the head strength and conditioning coach for the Seattle Seahawks and moved across the stage in front of the podium like one.

“I’m a coach. I don’t hide behind a podium,” he said.

In 1985, Carlisle said he was one of 979,477 college graduates. This year, the national number is reported to be 1.87 million. He asked the graduates how they are going to become one in a million and followed up his question by sharing what he did to distinguish himself in his career.

He said even though he was not the tallest, strongest or fastest, he used every skill and ability he did have to become one of only 32 professional football strength and conditioning coaches in the world.

Carlisle detailed how his association with CSC offensive line coach Tim Weiss set in motion a chain of events that launched his career and led him to meet his wife. He encouraged the graduates to nurture relationships and make lasting connections with CSC friends and faculty.

He assured the graduates obstacles are not a reason to give up. He referred to his successful battle with cancer, and shared a quote from the “Last Lecture” by Dr. Randy Pausch, pointing out that “brick walls are not put in your path to stop us but to see how much we want something.”

Carlisle encouraged audience members to face difficulties head-on and not shy away from challenges.

“When you are given two choices, the easy and the hard, choose the hard,” he said.

Carlisle closed with expressing his confidence in the graduates’ decisions, so far.

“A few years ago, you came to a crossroads in your life. ‘Do I go to college? Where do I go to college? That was your crossroads. Not now. You made the right choice. You came here and got your degree from the best college in the United States. It’s your choice; you can be significant or you can be average,” he said. “This is your opportunity. You have everything out in front of you.”

The opening moment of reflection was offered by Uyen Han of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Lane Swedberg of Wallace, Nebraska, offered the closing moment of reflection.

—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator

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