Susan Fritz Commencement Address
Interim President Susan Fritz delivered remarks to University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduates during the August 17, 2019, commencement ceremony.
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[00:00:04.260]Chancellor Green, thank you for that kind introduction
[00:00:07.670]and the invitation to be here today.
[00:00:10.290]I am honored to celebrate with all of you.
[00:00:13.312]To our graduates, congratulations.
[00:00:16.990]Only you know what it took to,
[00:00:18.960]you arrive at this moment, cherish it, cherish it.
[00:00:23.960]To all the parents, aunts and uncles,
[00:00:27.300]grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, faculty,
[00:00:31.670]staff and friends in the room, thank you.
[00:00:35.330]I know well the joy of watching
[00:00:37.390]a loved one walk across this stage.
[00:00:40.140]The support and guidance you have given to the graduates
[00:00:43.540]means more than you know.
[00:00:45.170]This is your day too.
[00:00:48.020]And as I look out upon the graduates,
[00:00:50.280]I see many emotions; pride, excitement,
[00:00:55.050]probably some sadness about ending one chapter,
[00:00:57.810]mixed with hope about turning the page to the next,
[00:01:02.000]and perhaps some of your heads are spinning
[00:01:04.190]as mine once was.
[00:01:06.410]I clearly remember sitting in that seat three times.
[00:01:10.837]Initially I had arrived at the University of Nebraska
[00:01:14.060]four years earlier with not the slightest inkling
[00:01:17.280]of how this incredible institution
[00:01:19.124]would come to shape my life and my career.
[00:01:23.294]No one in my family had gone to a four-year college,
[00:01:26.870]but in his typical pragmatic way,
[00:01:29.434]my father had informed me "My taxes help build
[00:01:33.627]"the university, so that's where you're going to go."
[00:01:38.400]That sounded reasonable to me.
[00:01:41.910]Now I may have been a little green around the edges
[00:01:44.120]when I showed up on campus,
[00:01:45.446]but I was eager to learn and deeply curious,
[00:01:48.544]the result of years of reading the books
[00:01:51.320]my godfather gave me every birthday
[00:01:53.365]that celebrated the rich history of places,
[00:01:56.468]like my family's farm near Crete,
[00:01:58.802]while also opening my eyes to new ideas
[00:02:02.660]and the bigger world around me.
[00:02:05.664]I had always been good with numbers.
[00:02:07.730]So, I decided I would become an accountant.
[00:02:10.849]It was a relatively uncommon field for women at the time,
[00:02:14.771]but I was blessed with wonderful professors and mentors
[00:02:17.555]and enjoyed my coursework immensely.
[00:02:21.920]Everything was going according to plan.
[00:02:24.619]Then two weeks before I was to take the CPA exam,
[00:02:28.534]I woke up and realized this isn't what I wanted
[00:02:32.030]to do with my life.
[00:02:35.140]I called home and I told my parents
[00:02:37.817]I had canceled the examination.
[00:02:42.235]I think I held the phone out to here
[00:02:44.910]for a good five minutes, before I got another word in.
[00:02:50.690]I will never know what would have happened
[00:02:52.580]if I would have silenced that voice inside me,
[00:02:55.030]and taken that exam.
[00:02:57.230]Maybe I would have had a perfectly pleasant
[00:02:59.550]career as an accountant.
[00:03:02.840]But 37-some years later, I get to wake up every day
[00:03:07.480]and come to a job that I love,
[00:03:10.090]doing work that I'm passionate about,
[00:03:12.580]with more adventure still on the way.
[00:03:15.680]I know I made that right choice for me,
[00:03:19.360]serving this place and these people,
[00:03:22.740]with these opportunities before us
[00:03:25.330]is a privilege of a lifetime.
[00:03:28.729]Now I don't want to give the accounting graduates
[00:03:31.330]in the room any ideas.
[00:03:34.160]We do need each and every one of you,
[00:03:36.410]but I tell you this story to make a point.
[00:03:39.910]It is always the right time to make a change
[00:03:43.300]that you believe in.
[00:03:46.620]You might get a stern lecturer as I did.
[00:03:49.770]You might be scared as I was.
[00:03:52.628]You might be tempted to stay on a familiar path
[00:03:55.610]rather than make yourself vulnerable by taking a risk,
[00:03:59.850]but know this.
[00:04:01.750]Every time we impose a limit upon ourselves,
[00:04:05.270]we give a little something away.
[00:04:08.520]I am calling on each of you not to let that happen.
[00:04:13.046]Our state and the nation are depending on your leadership,
[00:04:17.660]your talents, and your ideas now as much as ever.
[00:04:22.630]It is your humility, grace, curiosity, and resilience
[00:04:27.570]that will carry us forward.
[00:04:30.140]Your openness to change, your willingness to seek the rich
[00:04:34.100]dimensions in other people and your refusal to ever stop
[00:04:38.019]growing will ensure that you are an active participant
[00:04:41.610]in the future, instead of simply a spectator.
[00:04:46.030]This place and these people have prepared you
[00:04:50.010]for these opportunities now before you.
[00:04:54.320]And there is no doubt in my mind you will seize them.
[00:04:58.520]You are ready for this moment
[00:05:00.240]because you have a University of Nebraska education.
[00:05:04.610]A distinction you are earning today
[00:05:06.470]that will carry with you forever.
[00:05:09.649]In its 150-year history,
[00:05:12.820]the University of Nebraska has never shied from boldness.
[00:05:17.160]This was the first institution west of the Mississippi River
[00:05:21.000]to offer graduate education.
[00:05:23.859]This is the institution that educated pioneering
[00:05:27.440]Nebraska scholars like Willa Cather,
[00:05:30.200]Louise Pound and Mari Sandoz.
[00:05:34.108]This is the institution that today is at the forefront
[00:05:38.026]in solving the great challenges of our time,
[00:05:41.590]hunger, climate change, disease, national security.
[00:05:48.610]This is the institution that gave someone like me
[00:05:51.229]the opportunity to stand before you today.
[00:05:57.970]I know that you too will follow this model of discovery,
[00:06:01.300]growth and change.
[00:06:03.550]It's a way of life here in Nebraska.
[00:06:05.950]It is the credo we should all live by.
[00:06:10.530]You will not remember everything you've learned
[00:06:12.360]in the classroom over the past several years,
[00:06:14.600]and as a faculty member I'm allowed to say that
[00:06:18.651]but you will remember the values you learned here,
[00:06:22.774]and if I'm in a position to offer advice at all,
[00:06:26.930]I would urge you to live those values every day
[00:06:30.040]in every experience and every decision.
[00:06:35.480]Every human interaction is an opportunity
[00:06:38.620]to lighten another person's load.
[00:06:43.560]Allow others to see things in you that
[00:06:45.680]you may not see in yourself.
[00:06:48.160]Someone may help you unlock your potential
[00:06:50.550]in a way you would have never expected.
[00:06:54.735]And know that no matter what you accomplish,
[00:06:57.592]some will underestimate you, let them.
[00:07:02.650]Remember that you can compete with anybody.
[00:07:07.810]We can out-compete.
[00:07:11.000]And never close your mind.
[00:07:12.868]Never impose a limit upon yourself that will let
[00:07:15.830]an opportunity pass you by,
[00:07:18.722]whether you are open to change
[00:07:20.890]or not will perhaps be the greatest driving factor
[00:07:23.891]behind your ability to create the future you want.
[00:07:29.840]Not long ago I had the wonderful opportunity
[00:07:32.420]to meet with a UNL graduate student,
[00:07:34.480]who was working on a class project.
[00:07:37.330]She shared a quote with me from a book she had read
[00:07:39.910]on leadership that has stayed with me.
[00:07:42.556]The legacy you leave is the life you lead.
[00:07:48.900]This is your opportunity to lead a life of service,
[00:07:52.300]of kindness to others, of continual learning,
[00:07:55.750]of responsibility to the people and places around you.
[00:08:00.706]Now as ever the future depends on your leadership.
[00:08:05.130]May we all lead a life that leaves a legacy
[00:08:07.840]we can be proud of.
[00:08:11.270]Congratulations again to the newest graduates
[00:08:13.590]of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:08:15.695]I am so proud of all that you have accomplished
[00:08:18.330]and I can't wait to see what's next.
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