Katharine Helen Bartlett
Thank you President Córdova.
Good morning graduates and once again, congratulations. Also, thank you to our guests for coming to Purdue to share this special day with us. My family including my 97 year old grandmother is here today all the way from Central FL. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers and grandmothers here!
I am excited and honored to be speaking for an entire group of graduate students. In the past, graduate students participated in the commencement ceremonies along with undergraduates and there were issues related to how long it took to hood the PhD candidates. I was sure there would be no grumbling about the length of the program this morning. Thank you all for being such an excellent audience!
I may be different from some in that I also received my bachelor’s degree from Purdue. Like many of this morning’s graduates, I had to adjust to the ways of graduate school, but I was already accustomed to strange things that happen at Purdue. For example, there is an event called The Breakfast Club that serves as sort of a Halloween party before every home football game. Or perhaps some of us came here thinking that Purdue was an elite school on the East Coast. Well, Purdue is an elite school, but we reside in the middle of a cornfield.
Graduates, have you ever struggled with data collection or the use of a model in graduate school? Did you ever wish that you were not a TA? Were you ever tired of making changes to a research paper or poster? Lastly, did you ever question your ability to graduate? I know I did. Now I have ONE question for the audience: that’s you, family and friends! Have you ever had to listen to one of these graduates complain about any of the previous questions? Thank you!
We can learn many lessons from today’s guest speaker, David Wolf. He reminds us that successful people fail more often than those who are not successful. At one time he said, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying enough.” When you were struggling, what did you do, graduates? You tried again, probably with more information and a better strategy. My point is – you worked hard and did not give up and that is why we are here. You were persistent. From now on, this degree will be evidence of your persistence.
When my brother and I were younger, my dad would say, “do your best,” before we left for school each day. Of course, back then, we did not really think it was necessary for him to tell us that every single morning. But now I can see that his consistently telling us to do our best probably played a large role in us persistently doing our best. Graduates, I believe that if you keep the persistence you had in graduate school and combine it with your best work, the entire world will be rewarded. Sure, we will stumble, but don’t you think it will be worth it?
Please take a moment to do one more thing: remember those people who said they listened to you complain. We should remember our support group and thank them often, and if we cannot pay them back, we should do our best to pay it forward. Good luck in your endeavors and hail Purdue!