Michele Perkins, Ed.D.
New England College
Trustees, distinguished honorees, faculty, staff, parents and families, the Class of 2009, and friends of New England College: Welcome!
Today we celebrate the 62nd Commencement of New England College! For all of you who are graduating today, I know that one thing you will be receiving a lot of today is congratulations. And you deserve it. You have worked hard to get here.
But another thing you might be receiving a lot of today is advice. There is something about a college commencement that invites people to share their secrets of success with you and tell you what they think you should do. As your college president, this is my last opportunity to address you all. So I am going to take full advantage of the authority of my position and give you three pieces of advice. They are on the subject of change – something we are all familiar with – and here is the first:
Embrace it. Manage it. Use it to your own advantage. Better yet – seek it out. Because if you don’t – guess what – it’s going to find you anyway.
If there is a lesson that we all should have learned here, it is that one thing we are absolutely certain of is that things will change. And when we sit back and wait for change to find us, sometimes it doesn’t come in a form that is most welcome to us.
So here is my second bit of advice:
Become a risk taker. An educated risk taker. Because being a risk taker is really about getting ahead of the curve when it comes to change. It means anticipating it. And when you anticipate change you have a better chance of using it to your advantage and not becoming a victim of it.
But the downside of being a risk taker is often finding yourself outside of your comfort zone. And that can feel pretty scary.
And that leads me to my third and final bit of advice:
Know yourself well enough to be able to distinguish between your real limits and your perceived limits. Believe me, I am not advocating for foolhardy behavior on anyone’s part. But often we fail to challenge ourselves when we lack the courage or the motivation to push ourselves past what we think are our limitations and into an area that is far less comfortable but much more rewarding. Getting out of your comfort zone could mean the difference between a life of security and a life of greatness. Having goals or realizing your dreams.
Please join me now as we acknowledge the accomplishments of our graduates and recognize those whose academic success has taken them far beyond their own expectations.