Go Big Grad | Susan Swearer
Susan Swearer, Willa Cather Professor and chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at Nebraska, delivered the address “The Transformative Power of Saying Yes” during the combined graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremony Aug. 13, 2022, at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
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[00:00:01.980]So welcome students, families, friends, faculty, staff
and supporters of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:00:08.910]It is my sincere honor to help you celebrate this
[00:00:13.830]I feel like Bob Phares and I must have planned our
comments because I was also going to talk about
[00:00:22.920]It's the act of starting out or blazing a new trail.
[00:00:27.030]This graduation ceremony is called commencement because
it celebrates you graduates embarking on a new life as
[00:00:34.140]a degree recipient from the University of
[00:00:37.890]This ritual marks the official start of your degreed
[00:00:41.999]Since faculty love to create acronyms, I'll call this
time in your life LAUNL or life after UNL.
[00:00:50.879]Before I make my remarks, you might want to take what
I'm about to say about the transformative power of
[00:00:56.579]saying yes with some skepticism.
[00:00:59.369]I said yes to joining a pickleball league this spring,
I embraced my new sport.
[00:01:04.829]However, last month, I ruptured my Achilles tendon,
which is why I'm on crutches.
[00:01:09.629]And in a boot, and I've been in this boot for eight
weeks, and I'm not a patient person.
[00:01:14.309]So it's been a challenge.
[00:01:17.039]This new life, your LAUNL is not planned, despite your
best intentions, you might know you might think you
[00:01:23.731]know what you're going to do.
[00:01:25.530]But in 25 years, you might look back and say wow, this
is not what I planned at all.
[00:01:30.059]So how should you prepare for LAUNL ?
[00:01:33.150]I'm going to suggest that you embrace the
transformative power of saying yes and say yes, a lot.
[00:01:39.990]Saying yes has opened many doors for me.
[00:01:42.450]As a psychology undergraduate major, I knew I wanted to
work with children and adolescents, but I didn't know
[00:01:48.300]in what capacity.
[00:01:49.890]There seem to be endless choices therapists,
psychologists, psychiatrists, teacher coach.
[00:01:55.200]Then a professor from Penn State came to one of my
undergraduate classes and encouraged us to apply for a
[00:02:01.890]US Department of Education traineeship in special
[00:02:06.030]I wasn't sure if I was qualified, but I applied and was
[00:02:10.289]Saying yes, at that time helped me earn a master's
degree from Penn State.
[00:02:14.610]My first real job out of college and graduate school
was a high school special education teacher in rural
[00:02:21.000]And it was during that year that the school
psychologist who was assigned to my classroom
[00:02:26.160]recognized that I might not really be cut out to be a
special education teacher.
[00:02:31.410]And she recommended that I looked into school
[00:02:34.920]So I said, Yes, and applied to school psychology
[00:02:38.310]And here I am.
[00:02:39.960]My research has been on the relationship between
depression and conduct disorder and adolescents.
[00:02:45.150]And as a professor, there's lots of pressure to teach
well and publish lots.
[00:02:49.740]So in my first semester at UNL, teaching a student in
my class came up to me and asked me if I knew anything
[00:02:57.120]And since I studied conduct disordered behavior and
kids, and one of the symptoms of conduct disorder is
[00:03:03.030]often bullies threatens or intimidates others, I said,
Yeah, I think I can do that I know a little bit.
[00:03:09.420]So I visited visited her school started a research
project following a cohort of middle school students
[00:03:14.880]into high school.
[00:03:16.320]And that set the stage for my career.
[00:03:18.450]So saying, yes, set the stage for studying bullying,
peer victimization, and mental health difficulties.
[00:03:26.040]So what does this have to do with you?
[00:03:28.260]Think about the opportunities that you are given and
even if you don't feel qualified, or you feel afraid of
[00:03:34.410]something new, you never know where the transformative
power of saying yes will lead you.
[00:03:40.320]I hope your LUNL embraces the yes mindset.
[00:03:44.490]And the cool thing is, you have already started saying
[00:03:48.180]You said yes to earning a degree from the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, and look at how well that's turned
[00:03:54.090]out so far.
[00:03:55.260]You are here today receiving your diplomas.
[00:03:58.290]Be open to opportunities, put yourself out there in the
[00:04:02.100]Recognize that you might not know what you want to do,
and that's okay.
[00:04:06.390]You might feel insecure or unsure of yourself.
[00:04:09.150]But that's okay, too.
[00:04:10.860]The one thing that I knew when I was 24 years old and
graduate school was that I was never ever going to be a
[00:04:18.840]My goal was to open a private practice working with
children, adolescents and their families.
[00:04:24.000]I was working as a therapist in a children's hospital
in Dallas when my advisor from UT Austin called me in
[00:04:30.450]he said, hey, there's a faculty opening at UNL in their
school psychology program.
[00:04:34.680]I think you should apply.
[00:04:36.180]And I said, well, there are two problems.
[00:04:38.280]I do not want to be a faculty member, and I'm not sure
I want to live in the Midwest.
[00:04:43.050]25 years later, here I am.
[00:04:45.630]Lincoln has been a great place to live and grow
professionally and personally.
[00:04:50.550]Our daughters were born and raised here.
[00:04:52.830]Our youngest daughter is a sophomore at UNL and I
wouldn't change where I am for the world.
[00:04:58.320]I hope that saying yes to different experiences and
opportunities will help you carve out your path for
[00:05:04.800]building the life, the career and the connections that
[00:05:08.790]I do know that saying no won't open many doors.
[00:05:11.970]I'm very thoughtful about what I say no to, because I
know that saying no limits opportunities.
[00:05:17.760]Too often people are focused on the end result and they
lose out on the journey along the way.
[00:05:22.680]You don't know where you'll be in 25 years.
[00:05:24.990]So your daily journey is what matters.
[00:05:27.930]Early in my career, I was called by a graduate of the
UNL Law Psychology program.
[00:05:33.270]And he said he was working with a celebrity on forming
[00:05:36.750]I had no idea who the celebrity was, I enjoyed my
conversations with him.
[00:05:41.040]And it turned out that saying yes to hours of phone
calls with this UNL graduate was a good thing I was
[00:05:57.689]This collaboration has meant that research has informed
the Foundation's work and they've impacted hundreds of
[00:06:03.511]1000s of lives across the globe with their programs.
[00:06:06.239]Saying yes help create unique partnerships and
propelled research on bullying and victimization into
[00:06:13.619]Saying yes to this opportunity opened tons of doors, I
got to work with the National Guard training guards men
[00:06:19.846]and women across the United States to implement a
bullying prevention program in schools.
[00:06:24.839]I got to work with the Paul Mitchell schools training
hairstylists and cosmetologists, how to help clients
[00:06:28.057]invited to be part of the launch of Lady Gaga's Born
This Way Foundation and was able to go on tour with
[00:06:30.609]who might be bullied or whose children might be bullied.
[00:06:33.629]Saying yes to non traditional opportunities, open doors
to making research on bullying and victimization,
[00:06:40.784]accessible to lay people and broke down barriers
between academic research and the real world.
[00:06:47.129]I hope your time at UNL has been challenging, rewarding
and at times difficult.
[00:06:52.319]When life is difficult, it's hard to say yes.
[00:06:55.169]But just maybe this is the best time to say yes, saying
yes opens opportunities.
[00:07:00.599]What if I had said no to all of those opportunities in
my life, I would have missed out on a unique career.
[00:07:07.769]So in your LAUNL , you won't know what opportunities
will arise or where life will take you.
[00:07:13.649]If you've risked getting out of your comfort zone and
embrace a yes mindset, you will open possibilities that
[00:07:15.527]her, which was really a transformative experience in my
[00:07:21.123]you might never known would have existed.
[00:07:23.909]You've already started by saying yes to earning your
degree from UNL.
[00:07:27.929]I hope you enjoy every second of receiving your degree today.
[00:07:31.979]Remember to smile at the camera at the end of the ramp,
wave and cheer to your family and friends who supported
[00:07:37.909]you in this journey.
[00:07:38.969]And if you're in Lincoln next summer, maybe I'll see
you on the pickleball courts.
[00:07:52.890]Thank you very much Sue and if this is an example of
lifelong learning, I didn't know there was a LUNL, and
[00:08:00.196]so now we have a new vocabulary word.
[00:08:02.700]Thank you for that Sue.
[00:08:03.613]Let's give Sue another big round of applause for a
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