Purdue graduates urged to seek opportunities, embrace change

August 4, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Acting Purdue University President Timothy Sands on Saturday (Aug. 4) sent more than 1,200 graduates off to the next chapter of their lives with a lot of Purdue pride and a little advice for the future.

In welcoming graduates into the fold as Boilermaker alumni during the summer commencement ceremony in Elliott Hall of Music, Sands urged them to look at how far they've come during their time at the university and to look to the future with confidence.

"For those of you who are earning your baccalaureate degrees this summer, your earliest days at Purdue may seem long ago," he said. "You probably sat in this same hall at Boiler Gold Rush wondering whether you would be able to fulfill the rigors of college and meet the high standard of excellence that is Purdue.

"The anxious young freshmen who sat here several years ago have grown, and today we celebrate as you become the future leaders of our communities and corporations, of our academic institutions, and our government agencies."

Sands, who also is Purdue's Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering, reminded graduates that they have mastered their chosen areas of study and created knowledge, made significant advancements through research and helped design useful tools that will assist others.

"Among you may be a best-selling novelist, a hotel manager, an inspirational teacher, a compassionate nurse, a cyberforensics genius, or a crop scientist who will help farmers around the world gain greater yields from land that struggles to produce.

"Purdue graduates are impacting and improving peoples' lives."

Sands applauded graduates for the confidence, independence, responsibility and leadership they gained at Purdue. As they begin the next phase of life, he noted a few changes of his own, such as moving from Provost Sands to acting President Sands less than a month ago, and he shared what he has learned through life's changes.

He told the graduates to repeat what works: be patient, but seek opportunities; and to expect change.

"You have been taught and mentored by some of the finest faculty in the world. Internalize the skills and traits that you found effective in them and apply them to your own life," he said.

"Whether you are going on to a faculty position at another university, starting a company or joining a Fortune 500 corporation, you can always draw useful information from the people around you. I encourage you to watch and learn from others who are more experienced, and remember, someday, young people will be learning from you."

Sands noted that Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show that the average person born in the latter years of the baby boom - 1957-64 - held 11 jobs from ages 18-44.

"That's a lot of changing and a lot of opportunities," he said.

"But although change is sometimes tough, or even scary, every new position can be viewed as a step closer to something you really want to do or an opportunity to make a greater impact.

"The main message I want you and your families to take away today is this: Change is good.

"It leads to personal growth. It helps you refine what type of person you want to be and what you want to do with your career. It often leads to more money. Or you might even discover that money is not a major criterion for you, after all. Maybe for you it is autonomy or a sense of higher purpose, or the opportunity to master your field.

"And there is something else that is good about change: It is something you can count on. It will be a constant in your life."

One thing that will never change, he said, is that they will forever remain Purdue Boilermakers.

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Source: Timothy Sands, president@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: The full speech will be available at http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/qt/2012/120804SP-SandsCommence.html after 9:30 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 4).

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