PULLMAN, Wash.–U.S. Congressman George R. Nethercutt Jr. told Washington State University graduates at the university’s first ever fall commencement exercises today (Dec. 15) that the world cries out for leadership from today’s college graduates.

“You are entering a world vastly different and more dangerous than it was before Sept.11 – a world now that cries out for your leadership – in government, in science, in business, in education, in the military. Your generation is now called on to face a fearsome worldwide threat of terrorism similar to that serious threat which faced your grandparents, as they were stunned by Pearl Harbor and World War II.

“Graduates,” Nethercutt said, “(Today’s) terrorists’ greatest mistake would be to underestimate your love of country, your commitment to peace and freedom, and your willingness to be called another great generation, just like your parents and grandparents have been.

“Commencement is the starting point for each of you as a certified, educated person. You have invested in knowledge–something that no one can ever take from you,” said the fifth district congressman.

“Educated people have always been important in our country,” Nethercutt said. “Our most learned men and women lead the world. You, therefore, will proceed from here, enabled better than ever before, to realize your potential, because you have a college degree. You are educated, and you should be very proud.”

He urged the WSU graduates to have confidence in their education and abilities. “Commit to being strong leaders wherever you find yourself, unafraid to make a decision, or a mistake,” said Nethercutt, a 1967 WSU graduate in English.

About 380 graduating students from the summer and fall semesters took part in Saturday’s ceremony. Twenty-seven of the graduates were doctoral candidates and 41 were master’s candidates. About 1,500 students will earn degrees in December. The commencement complements WSU’s annual spring graduation in May.

WSU added a fall commencement so students graduating in August and December could participate in a ceremony closer to the end of their studies. Jesse Keene, president of the Associated Students of WSU, also spoke. WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and Provost Ron Hopkins presided.

The ceremony is available for viewing on the Internet at www.experience.wsu.edu.