CHADRON – Two hundred forty-two candidates for bachelor’s degrees were honored during Chadron State College’s Undergraduate Commencement Saturday in the Chicoine Center.
Samantha Merrill of Hot Springs, South Dakota, offered the opening moment of reflection. Ashley Jackson of Wylie, Texas, offered the closing moment of reflection.
Connor Besse of Littleton, Colo., received his commission as a Second Lt. in the Army.
Trevor Schmidt, 2016 Distinguished Young Alumni Award recipient and attorney living in North Carolina, offered advice about developing character and careers in his address to the graduates.
Schmidt referred to a biblical story from a podcast by JD Greear, a North Carolina pastor. Greear describes the years after David was anointed to become king but remained a shepherd as the pasture of obscurity where he developed the trust, courage, and convictions he would need to rule.
“Don't despise the pasture of obscurity. In the coming months, you will be back to the relative obscurity of starting something new. This is where character and integrity take hold, and this is where greatness begins,” Schmidt said. “Wherever you are at, whatever stage of your career, take the opportunity to learn from that moment. Find that next goal and start working toward it, even if means stepping back into obscurity for a time.”
He also urged the graduates to define their own version of success.
“If you want to stay at home and pour yourself into your kids, dads too, don't give that up because the world tells you that value can only be found outside of the home,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said his observations of society have led him to the conclusion that those who disagree seem to have lost the ability to talk about differences civilly.
“Have the confidence to consider the possibility you might be wrong. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We can disagree without despising,” he said. “Seek to serve other people. When we open ourselves up to the pain and suffering of another person, we have a chance to see the world from their perspective.”
Using his phone to take a selfie with the graduating class, he asked the audience what was wrong with the photo.
“My head takes up 40 percent of the photo. In many ways our lives are like that. If our focus is inward, we take up too much room. When we turn the focus of our lives outward, we make more room to see the rest of the world,” Schmidt said. “If we can change our default to a posture of service, we have an opportunity to move mountains. Mountains of poverty, mountains of prejudice, mountains of addiction, mountains of loneliness, and despair. Let it start with you.”
Additionally, Schmidt asked the graduates to be proud of their affiliation with CSC.
“I have had some setbacks and I have had some tremendous leaps forward. But in all these things, I have built upon on the foundation of knowledge, skill and experience that I earned at CSC. You may someday meet people who don’t know anything about Nebraska or its people. Be their first impression and blow their doors off,” Schmidt said.
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