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WGU Commencement Address from Jay Timmons
WGU Commencement Address from Jay Timmons
Western Governors University
<p>Jay Timmons, the President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers delivered the WGU Commencement Address at WGU's 71st Commencement.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>WGU President Scott D. Pulsipher: Graduates, families, and friends, it's so great to be with all of you. You truly are an inspiration, not just to us at WGU, but to everyone in your family, and your friends. Thank you so much for achieving this great accomplishment in your lives. </p> <p>I'm pleased to introduce our commencement speaker today. Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, and chairman of the board of the Manufacturing Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers Education and Workforce partner. </p> <p>The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector. Jay is the leading advocate for more than 12.8 million men and women who make things in America, educating the public and policymakers on issues that affect this critical industry. </p> <p>He promotes an agenda to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, improve the lives and livelihoods of American manufacturing workers, and build the modern manufacturing workforce. Jay is driven by the values instilled in him by his roots in the manufacturing town of Chillicothe, Ohio where his grandfather worked at a meat plant for nearly four decades, and where he witnessed manufacturing's ability to raise the quality of life for families and communities. </p> <p>A passionate advocate for the adoption of companion animals, Jay served for seven years as the chairman of the Washington Humane Society board of directors. Jay attended the Ohio State University, and resides in McLean, Virginia with his husband, Rick, and their three children. And it has been my privilege to serve with Jay on the American Workforce Policy Advisor Board over the last few months. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Jay Timmons. [Applause] </p> <p>Jay Timmons: Well, good morning night owls! Do me a favor: Be rowdy during this. This is your day, and I want you to enjoy it. And I want to extend my congratulations to this graduating class of Western Governors University. </p> <p>It's a culmination this day is a culmination of your hard work, overcoming doubts, and plowing through roadblocks. You have earned the right to be proud today, and I'll repeat it again: You've earned the right to be rowdy. [Cheers] [applause] </p> <p>Now, listen, I love that name, "night owls." It sums you up so perfectly. While everybody else was asleep, dreaming, you were hard at work making your dreams a reality. </p> <p>So President Pulsipher, Chancellor Watts, WGU leadership, and family, and friends gathered here, thank you so much for the chance to celebrate with you all today. Most of all, thank you so much for the opportunity to be back home in Ohio. As the president said, I was born and raised in Chillicothe, and also Circleville, about a hundred miles from here. And I know we have graduates from all across the country, but I'm an Ohio boy, so tell me, who is from Ohio, let's hear it! [Applause] All right! </p> <p>President Pulsipher gave me a very kind introduction, but some of you are still probably wondering who the heck is this guy? And I think that's a fair question. As President Pulsipher said, I lead the National Association of Manufacturers, and our job is making sure that the people and the elected officials in Washington, D.C. are focused on helping manufacturers here in Ohio, and across America, create new jobs, raise wages and benefits, and invest in our communities. We are the voice, as he said, for the more than 12.8 million men and women who make things in America. </p> <p>Part of our mission is helping more people join the modern manufacturing workforce. These jobs are a high tech, high paying, and almost half a million jobs in manufacturing are open today. In fact, we're going to have about 4.6 million jobs that we have to fill over the next decade. </p> <p>A few months ago, the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce formed the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. And it's a taskforce to help educate people for the jobs of tomorrow. CEO's of America's top brands are on it. So are some of the most innovative thinkers in education, including, as he indicated, your own President Pulsipher, as I am. And that's how I know him, and I ended up here today. I think it says a lot about the stature of your school that when the White House and the Secretary of Commerce assembled this team, they tapped the president of WGU. </p> <p>This institution, yeah, that deserves applause. [Applause] Because this institution commands respect at the highest levels of government. By receiving a WGU degree, you will command respect in the job market. This is not your traditional college, and that's what makes it great. Other schools force you to adapt to their demands. This school adapts to your needs. This is a trailblazing institution, and you are trailblazing graduates. </p> <p>As you heard earlier, nearly 40 percent of you are the first in your family to go to college. So was I. Angie and Rayna are going to share their inspiring journeys to this day. But each of you each and every one of you has your own story. Maybe you were told that you'd never make it. You're working full time, you have kids, how could you possibly get a degree? Maybe you heard it from a co worker, maybe even a friend. </p> <p>Well you proved them wrong. And many of you set a powerful example for your kids along the way, many of whom we're hearing here, and by the way I love that sound. Keep these kids focused on this activity, and show them what the future is all about. Because it wasn't easy for any of you. Life life has a way of interrupting our plans. </p> <p>I should know, I did attend the Ohio State University. And then life interrupted. I never finished my degree. And back then, [chuckles] there was no such thing as the Internet. And I didn't have the opportunity to participate in this type of non traditional academic setting. So by the way, there's another accomplishment: You're more credentialed than your commencement speaker today. </p> <p>Any employer is going to be lucky to have you, and you're fortunate to be graduating into one of the strongest job markets in generations. Do you realize that right now, there are actually more job openings in America than people looking for jobs? That is going inert to your benefit. If you're looking, I do hope that you will look at manufacturing. We need people. We need IT people. I think we have some IT grads here today? [Applause] </p> <p>We need IT experts with robotics and artificial intelligence. Modern manufacturing is synonymous with connected technology. </p> <p>We need business minds because we're growing, hiring, and expanding. And we need young people educated in STEM. To we have future STEM educators with us here today? [Applause] Yeah, come on, come on, I know you're there. The educators are always, you know, they're just you withhold your emotion. You can't do that here. [Chuckles] </p> <p>When you're teaching science and math, the future of manufacturing, it's the backbone of the American economy, and it's in your hands. So thank you, and thank you WGU for being a top producer of STEM teachers. </p> <p>Whatever your career path, you are positioned for success. And I know that because you've proven that you don't let others put limits on you. So keep it up. Don't let anybody put you in a box. Break the mold. Neither your past, nor other people determine your future. </p> <p>I mean, I'm an Ohio farm boy. Now I go to policy meetings at the White House. And I've got to tell ya, shoveling manure in a barn, and working in Washington, D.C., they don't have much in common. [Laughter] Maybe just a little. </p> <p>Today I lead meetings with CEOs in boardrooms. But if you asked a classmate what I was like in high school, well, you'd probably hear, "Dork," or "nerd." I was actually so cool that I carried a briefcase through the halls when I was 15 years old. [Laughter] </p> <p>Now, trust me, in high school that does not make people picture you sitting in a boardroom. Kind of makes people picture you jammed into a locker. My point is, I don't fit into anybody's box. For the record, I didn't fit into that locker either. </p> <p>When I was just 31 years old, the governor of Virginia asked me to be his chief of staff, which meant leading people more than twice my age. Cabinet officials were walking into the office and they wondered if I was the chief or if it was bring your kids to work day. I didn't fit the mold. </p> <p>Today, I'm married to a great guy named Rick. We have three beautiful kids. But some people still look twice at our family because, again, we don't fit into their box. In life, and work, there will always be doubters, and self doubt. But you are already mold breaking leaders. You've defied the naysayers, so keep celebrating your own story. Own it. Use it for good, and be your authentic selves. </p> <p>Now commencement speakers are supposed to offer inspiration for the graduates. But as I look around, and I see all of you, and I see those of you who have served in our military, or who are serving, when I see somebody who has adopted our country, singing our national anthem, I am so inspired by all of you. And all I can say is: Keep it up. </p> <p>I will, however, ask you to do two things after you leave here today. First, remember this feeling, this feeling of accomplishment. The future's going to bring more challenges, there's no doubt about that. Don't let fear or self doubt hold you back. You've seen what you're capable of. Remember what success feels like and let it power you. Let it power you through the tough times. </p> <p>Second, be the difference maker for someone else. Pay it forward. There was somebody in your life who encouraged you along this journey. Maybe a parent, a spouse, a friend, your WGU mentor, or maybe that still, small voice that scripture speaks of. Thank them today and be a source of support when they or somebody else also needs it. </p> <p>And finally, channel your talent for the good of this country. We live in an exceptional nation. A nation founded by people who also, who also dared to think differently. But our nation will only have a bright future if leaders like you make it so. </p> <p>Today we're being tested from the outside and from within. Other countries are challenging our leadership. At home, there are forces that are dividing us. And there are Americans, there are Americans who feel that no matter what, they just can't get ahead. We must do better. Businesses, government, and engaged leaders just like you. You affect what happens in Washington with your voice, and with your votes. And America needs you to stand strong for the values that make America exceptional, free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty, and equal opportunity. </p> <p>From public corporations to private citizens, we can't just be in it for ourselves. Our society is stronger when it's about more than bottom lines and bank accounts. America needs all of us, all of us to heal the divisions in our society, and uphold those core values. This country is at its best when we think innovatively. Who better than students of this trailblazing institution to lead the way? </p> <p>So ladies and gentlemen, I leave you are those three simple requests: Remember what success feels like, be a difference maker for someone, be engaged citizens. And if you maintain the work ethic that brought you this far, there is no doubt you will have successful and rewarding careers. You will keep making your friends and your family proud, and night owls, you will soar above the competition. </p> <p>The saying goes, "The early bird catches the worm." But you know who catches the early bird? The night owls. Congratulations graduates! [Applause] </p>
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