Gov. Locke Addresses WSU Graduates

PULLMAN, Wash, — Gov. Gary Locke told Washington State University graduates of his family’s educational journey and urged them to fulfill the promise of their own education during the university’s 108th spring commencement ceremony May 8 at the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum on the Pullman campus.

“As I look out on this wonderful sea of faces, I see and feel a powerful promise a promise that you will move civilization forward. I see that all the sacrifices of your parents and grandparents were not in vain. And I see a new generation blessed with great challenges and equally great opportunities,” Locke said to the audience at the first of three commencement ceremonies held Saturday at WSU.

The two-term governor talked about his family’s history during the speech how his grandfather came to the United States from China as a teen-ager and worked as a servant for a family in Olympia in exchange for English lessons.

“For our entire Locke clan, education has been the great equalizer. We believe that regardless of your gender, your ethnic origin, your income level, with a quality education, we can realize the American dream,” he said.

“In about the year 2020, I hope to be sitting out among you, as a proud father of a graduate. That’s when my daughter Emily, who is seven years old, will likely participate in this rite of passage,” Locke said. “And by then, one of you may be up here speaking as the governor of this state. All due to the power of education.”

About 2,100 students took part in the three commencement ceremonies. Locke addressed graduates from the College of Education and the College of Business and Economics at an 8 a.m. ceremony. WSU President V. Lane Rawlins presided at the three events. Jesse Aspuria, president of the Associated Students of Washington State University, spoke at each ceremony. Aspuria received his diploma during the morning session.

Stephen Fodor, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of the Santa Clara, Calif., biotechnology company Affymetrix Inc., spoke at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony to agricultural, human, and natural resource sciences; engineering; architecture; nursing; pharmacy; sciences and veterinary medicine graduates.

Fodor is credited with groundbreaking scientific and engineering technological achievements in biotechnology. His firm is a pioneer in creating breakthrough tools, such as gene chips, driving the genomic revolution. Fodor is a WSU biology graduate and earned a master’s degree in biochemistry from WSU. His doctoral degree in chemistry is from Princeton University.

Fodor reflected on his experience at WSU: “I was, quite simply, lucky to be here because WSU did what a great university should do — it challenged my assumptions about who I was and what I wanted in life. WSU exposed me to a world of new opinions, ideas, and options.”

Fodor said, “Upon graduating from WSU, I actually thought that all of the great things in science had already been done. And, if there still were great things to be done then surely only great people could succeed in doing them.

“I was so wrong. The fact is that science and humanity are endless frontiers and there are countless great things still to be done. More importantly, as I finally realized — and what you will hopefully accept with today’s commencement — is that ordinary people are capable of doing extraordinary things when they have the courage to believe in themselves and take risks.”

At the 3 p.m. ceremony, Dr. Ed Tingstad addressed College of Liberal Arts graduates. Tingstad is the orthopaedic surgeon for both WSU and University of Idaho men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletic teams and a partner in Inland Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.

Tingstad told graduates that he come away from WSU with “a degree in history or an education in perspective as my father would say. Perspective can be hard to come by today. In a world where we tend to be given a number and asked to pick password it can be difficult to get anything more than information.

“Though your choice of a liberal arts degree encourages you to do more than accumulate facts, it still is a challenge to independently think.” Tingstad said. “Your efforts allow you to see, appreciate and understand yesterday, today and tomorrow. Your education gives you perspective, a perspective I think can allow us to understand and be grateful for the good around us.”

Tingstad asked graduates to focus on all that has been accomplished and all that they can do as well. “We live in a time when health, prosperity are unparalleled in the history of mankind. We live in a society that allows us to chose our vocation, religion and our leadership. We live in a state where our children rank in the top 15 in the world in several academic categories. Why is it that we never hear these things positive things? Information delivered in the form of television, the Internet and newspapers all emphasize the negative, all that is “wrong” or shocking.

“Thankfully, we can decide how we think, as Proverbs says, a merry heart makes good medicine. Look for the good in yourself and others; share this with them; remember it is always easier to see the negative. I challenge you for 24 hours try to dwell on nothing but positives. Try it. Make today a day to be excited, thankful and the beginning of a new chapter in life.”

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