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WGU Commencement Address from United States Senator Michael Enzi
WGU Commencement Address from United States Senator Michael Enzi
Western Governors University
<p>On July 14, 2007 United States Senator from Wyoming, Michael B. Enzi delivered the WGU Commencement Address. Enzi was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa by WGU President Dr. Robert Mendenhall. This commencement took place at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: On behalf of the Western Governors University Member Governors and Board of Trustees, we welcome you to this commencement ceremony. We extend a warm welcome particularly to our graduates who have traveled from many states to be with us for this ceremony. And a welcome also to many more graduates who are joining us via live internet streaming for this commencement exercise.</p> <p>I'm President Bob Mendenhall of the university. We extend a warm welcome to Senator Michael B. Enzi and his wife Diana who have joined us for this and we'll hear from Senator Enzi shortly. We welcome friends and family of our graduates and recognize on the stand the faculty of the university that have been so instrumental in the success of all of these graduates. We appreciate their great efforts.</p> <p>We also want to recognize seated on the stand a number of corporate supporters and scholarship donors to the university who have provided scholarships for some of our graduates.</p> <p>And joining us is Curtis Bennett, the Vice President of Retail Operations for O.C. Tanner; Joanie Clark from Morgan Stanley Bank; Cathy Schaeffer, the Community Relations Diversity Coordinator for Zion's Bank; Tony Mejia, Partner in Kirton and McConkie, and Elliott Anderson, the managing partner of Sixth Water, LLC. We're grateful for the corporate support that we receive as a university all of which goes for scholarships to students.</p> <p>In particular, I wish to congratulate these graduates on their accomplishment. As you know better than anyone, this is not an easy degree precisely because you're required to demonstrate your competencies. There are great advantages to working at a distance, not the least of which is doing homework in jammies. [Laughter] But there are significant challenges too, being self-motivated and disciplined, balancing work and family responsibilities while also attending to studies.</p> <p>I want to recognize each of you for the distance you have come to this graduation. Not only, the physical distance to be here today, but more importantly, the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual distance each of you have traveled over the past years to gain this degree. We're confident that your WGU education will serve you well and that you in turn will be exemplary graduates of this institution and reflect well on this university through a lifetime of professional accomplishment.</p> <p>We are acutely aware that the reputation of this university depends mostly on the accomplishments of our graduates. And so we look forward to following your accomplishments. Each of you know that as you've been part of a community of learners during your attendance at WGU, we also have a community of alumni that we would invite you to not only join, but participate in. We see that as evolving into an online professional community sharing best practices across the country among WGU graduates. And we provide a year of free mentoring to all graduates after graduation as you transition into using your degree in the workplace.</p> <p>At this graduation we have 420 graduates from 45 different states and 2 countries. Attending in person are 88 of these graduates from 29 different states. And we appreciate the efforts you have made with your families to come and be with us. And appreciate also the 300 and some graduates and their families who join us via internet streaming to participate in these ceremonies.</p> <p>I mentioned earlier and we are especially pleased to have with us today as our commencement speaker, the Honorable Michael B. Enzi, Senator from Wyoming and Former Chairman and a ranking minority member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee. An accountant by profession, Senator Enzi has served with distinction for over ten years in the United States Senate.</p> <p>Over the past few years, Senator Enzi led the Senate in its efforts to help ensure that everyone regardless of age, can receive a quality education. Senator, today the average age of these graduates is 38 and they range in age from 23 to 63. He has also worked to provide Americans access to affordable quality healthcare while protecting workers and providing them training to get the best jobs.</p> <p>Senator Enzi helped author the Workforce Reinvestment Act which creates a streamline job training and employment system vital to employers and workers. He formed the Rural Education Caucus and strives to ensure the unique challenges small population schools face are not overlooked in federal education legislation. Most importantly, for all of us gathered today and especially for you graduates, Senator Enzi has been a key force in the Congress in promoting educational opportunity and innovation. He was and is an early advocate of distance education and was instrumental in the creation of the Distance Learning Demonstration Program in 1999, including the inclusion of a brand new Western Governors University as part of that demonstration project.</p> <p>We especially want to recognize Senator Enzi today for his pivotal role in the development and success of this university including making it possible for our students to access federal financial aid, providing the flexibility in federal regulations to make true innovation possible, and providing key funding for the development and delivery of K12 teacher education programs. Last year, Senator Enzi was largely responsible for the U.S. Congress writing competency-based education into law, providing specifically for programs that, "Utilize direct assessment of learning in lieu of credit hours or clock hours." I consider it a great honor at this time on behalf of our 19 member governors and the WGU Board of Trustees to award Senator Michael B. Enzi an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western Governors University. [Applause]</p> <p>Senator Michael Enzi: Thank you very much. Mr. President, fellow graduates, graduates online, faculty, friends, guests, fellow celebrators, what a day. Congratulations. You have achieved what few have done and you've done it differently.</p> <p>You're the leaders in the next wave of education. Some of you will be teaching, some of you will be continuing your education the same way. Some of you will be helping others to understand how they have this opportunity to achieve the same way you had no matter where they are in the world. And we do have a lot of people around the world that could get on and feel like they're right here. That includes a lot of members of the Armed Services. It makes a huge difference to those that are overseas.</p> <p>I've got some good news for you and I've got some bad news for you. The good news, of course, is that you just graduated or will in a few moments. The bad news is tomorrow you're freshman again. And I wish you many times of being freshman. That's, that grand beginning, that grand opportunity, the grand excitement of something new and it should happen regularly in your life. They call this a commencement. Commencement means beginning, not ending. So you really need to have some great beginnings out there, time and time and time again. It'll be notice to yourself that you're progressing.</p> <p>So I'm going to talk to you a little bit about three important parts of life. One of them is where you're going, one is how to get there, and the final one is what to do on the way. Now, I'm going to suggest a book to you. I know you've been reading books. [Laughter] And you're thinking oh no, not another one, but my wife and I ran across a book called, The Aladdin Factor, a number of years ago. It's by the same people that wrote all those, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, but it's different than those. It's about how to ask for things.</p> <p>As you know, if you don't ask the answer is always no but they have this little part in there that our family has adopted and actually enlarged on, and you can do that same thing. It's about innovation. That's what you learned in college. It's called, The List of 100 Things to Do. And right now, you're saying I got a lot of things I want to do. I'm willing to bet you that if you sat down right now and started making that list, you have 25. The requirement for this list is 100. Now, if you -- if you get in a quiet place and you start writing these down, you'll get to your 25. That takes 5, 20 minutes -- somewhere around there. The next 25 will take you quite a bit longer. The third 25 will take you a considerable amount of time, but nothing like the fourth 25.</p> <p>The fourth 25 will be things that you've said, "Yeah, I'd like to do that," but there is no way in the world that I'm ever going to get to do that. You know, this is places to go, people to visit, career goals, family goals, anything you can think of. One hundred of them. The reason for 100 is to stretch your imagination because what you can imagine and believe me, and you can achieve. Now, and the last five things it'll probably take you a month to get them and those will be things that you know you will never get to do, but if you do this list, it will heighten your reception of opportunities.</p> <p>And of those last five things, the first month after you do the list, you will complete one of those. It works. Now, when you complete one, you need to move it to a done list and the purpose of a done list is when you're having a bad day, you go back and you read the done list. And you say, "Life's been pretty good to me," but an important part of this list of 100 is you have to replace that item.</p> <p>It always has to be 100. You always have to keep stretching your imagination on what the possibilities are for you out there. Oh, and another little part of this rule, one of my goals is to fish in all 50 states. I want you to know I was making more progress on that before I became Senator [Laughter]. But you also notice that I said that was one of the things. You can't cheat by listing something that's a group thing as each of the parts of it. That cannot be 50 things.</p> <p>Now, there's a -- another part to this that I'm still testing and it's the reason you got to keep it at a 100, you're not allowed to die until you wipe out the list. [Laughter] Oh, I used to think that was funnier, but I have now watched some older people who at some point in their life just start erasing the list of things to do and they do die. So keep it at 100 and keep replacing them and keep living life. So let me talk to you about to how to get there. This is something I've discovered over a number of years, and I noticed this age the 23 to 63, I'm the 63. But I've developed an 80/20 rule and this works in your personal life or it works when you're negotiating, or it works in your business. And I'll relate it to working in Congress, because we handle a lot of different issues and surprisingly we agree on 80 percent of all of the issues. Now, of the 80 percent we agree on, we agree on 80 percent of each of them.</p> <p>Now, if you watch television and you watch us debate, what you're getting to watch is the 20 percent that we don't agree on, won't agree on, can't agree on, and it looks pretty messy. We've already milked the system, gathered the cream, and what you're seeing on television is us mucking out the stables, but if we concentrate on that 80 percent, we get a lot done. The average committee in Congress finishes three bills every two years.</p> <p>Senator Kennedy is now the Chairman of the Committee. He used to be the ranking member. We switched roles this last year. During the two years that I was Chairman, we got 27 bills signed into law by Congress, signed into law by the President. And people have said, "How do you get that done?" Well, it's the two of us agreed on the 80 percent rule. He's considered the most liberal in Congress and I'm considered the most conservative. So some people join us when the two of us can agree thinking that it must be okay. [Laughter] But we have found that when there is disagreement, if we can keep it from being polarized, there's usually a third way of doing something.</p> <p>Now, I use the Congressional example, but this works in your personal lives too. If you concentrate on the 80 percent that you can get along with others on, you can get those things done. If you concentrate on the 20 percent, you're going to have to look at your done list a whole lot of times. So and what you do on the way or one of the things you need to do today and you are doing is to celebrate. You have got to learn to celebrate. As we get older, we kind of fall down on this. Celebrations become a little more stayed. They should not be. Now, usually I'm talking to a much younger group than this and I have to warn them about celebrating. [Laughter] In your case what I need to do is to ask you to stay kids. Kids know how to celebrate and there are a lot of events out there that need to be celebrated. Not just the ones at work.</p> <p>Now, work ones are important and Lou Holtz is one of my hero's and he talks about winning and he taught football players how to win, but he would explain that win means what's important now. When you're on the football field, that's the most important thing. When you're at home, that better be the most important thing. What's important now? My dad would say that, "I don't care son, if you're a ditch digger, but if you are a ditch digger, I want any darn fool in the world to look at your ditch and say, 'That's a Mike Enzi ditch.'" So be willing to put your signature on things and then celebrate that you did it that well. Don't try for perfection, just try for the 80 percent, that'll get you a long way.</p> <p>But I also want to encourage you to give back. A lot of times in Congress, we talk about people that are rich and what ought to happen. I don't care how rich anybody is. I don't care how much money people have. I do care a little bit what they do with their money. That's the important part. I remember coming out of a building with my son who had just turned 21, and there was a beautiful car parked out there and he knew all about it. I didn't know much about it, but I asked him how much that car was worth and he said, "Half a million dollars."</p> <p>And I said, "Well, I hope someday you have and now a job that will let you earn enough that you could buy one of those cars and then that you have the good enough sense not to buy one." [Laughter] Because there are a lot of other things that could be done with the talents that you've gotten and the capabilities that you've gotten through the degree that you're getting today and through the degree that you'll get in the future because life's about lifetime learning. That's what that list of 100 is about. Learning in different ways at different times.</p> <p>So where you go is up to you. How you get there is up to you and what you do on the way is up to you, but you have shown the determination, the desire, the excitement and had the encouragement to reach this goal. I salute you. You have laid the groundwork for a great life and you are to be congratulated. Congratulations.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
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