“You are embarking on a journey, and I want to make my brief remarks about that journey,” Sorensen said during two commencement ceremonies in Johnson Fieldhouse. “Indeed, you are now stepping into a different world and beginning a journey that will be exciting, demanding, fulfilling and full of surprises.”
A total of 1,140 undergraduates received their diplomas during the 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies. A total of 242 graduate students received their degrees during a new Graduate School commencement Friday evening.
“My personal journey has been very fulfilling, yet at times difficult, challenged and challenging,” Sorensen told graduates, their families and friends.
He said he has been privileged to work with talented people and interact with bright young people, “those who have and will continue to mold the future of the region, state and nation.”
Sorensen advised the graduates to understand that the first job many of them already have will not be their last but only a preparation for their ongoing careers. “So be willing and open to change, be willing to take risks, leave the comfort of your surroundings and challenge yourself,” he said.
It also is important to set goals, Sorensen said, that are ambitious yet realistic. “Recognize and respond to the new reality of globalization, new and rapidly changing technologies and worldwide competition for everything, including jobs,” he said. “Simply, do not underestimate yourself.”
Hard work is essential to accomplishing those goals, Sorensen said, as is a strong support network. “You cannot travel the journey alone,” he said. “Surround yourself with those who really care about you, and give back that care and love to them.”
A strong and true moral compass also is essential, he said, to guide “what is just and what will benefit society.
“If the metaphor for life is the stage,” he said, “you are now stepping out to play your many parts and I, representing a different generation, am exiting.”
Sorensen then conferred the degrees. Deans of the colleges presented the diplomas.
Jackie Weissenburger, associate vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, presided over the ceremonies. Mark Parsons, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Marketing, welcomed the graduates into the Stout Alumni Association.
Graduate School ceremony
Weissenburger, addressing the Graduate School commencement Friday, also offered advice to the attendees, including the necessity of hard work to accomplish goals, the value of optimism in meeting life’s challenges and the need for integrity in all situations.
“You have worked hard, spending months learning how to use research, data, technology and new skill sets to solve the problems of today and tomorrow,” Weissenburger said. “Our complex and technical world of today requires education and skills that were not needed in the past. Ultimately, you and your well-educated generation will be of benefit to us all.”