President Destler delivers final commencement speech

A. Sue Weisler

Today is a special day for all of the graduates and their families and friends, and to all of you I offer my warmest congratulations on reaching this point in your life’s journey. And today is a special day for Rebecca and me, since we are graduating from RIT with you. We took 10 years, but we finally graduated. In addition, it is a special day because I will sign this speech as I give it, so, happily for all of you, this speech will also be short.

In very real ways, the journey that Rebecca and I embarked upon a decade ago is similar to the journey that all of our graduates embark upon today. After many years in Maryland, we moved away from our comfortable community of family and friends to a new community, and we took on the challenges of new responsibilities. We were anxious, excited, happy, and depressed all at the same time. We were filled with hope for what the future might hold, but we did not even know if we had made the right decision in moving to Rochester.

For many of you, those are the same emotions that you confront today. The world is waiting for you out there, but you don’t know what the future holds. The RIT campus, once as unknown to you as your future, has become a home away from home. You have found friends and mentors here, and you have set upon a career path. But now the “real world” beckons, and you are both nervous and excited about the future.

Perhaps, therefore, some of the lessons we have learned over the past 10 years might be helpful to you as you begin this great new adventure. So here’s some of the many lessons we have learned since our move 10 years ago:

1. It is impossible to make such a move without learning and growing, and this is a good thing. Every day we have woken up to learn new things and meet new people. Change is almost always a good thing.

2. You do not have to give up your family and friends while you undertake this new adventure. In fact, they will be your greatest source of support. The friends you keep, however, will be the ones you continue to reach out to.

3. Make new friends both inside and outside of your work environment. You will need both.

4. Come back and see your family, friends, and RIT often. All of them will be a source of support for you in good times and bad.

5. Now many of you have found jobs or have been accepted to graduate school. Many of you, however, are still looking for jobs and to you I can say that I have been there. When I finished graduate school, I sent out more than 100 letters to employers, and I received not one encouraging response. In the end, however, I found a job, and you will, too, so don’t despair.

Finally, keep track of the goings-on at your alma mater, RIT. I can assure you that RIT will continue to grow and prosper along with all of you. And Rebecca and I are looking forward to your successes in the years ahead. Congratulations and all of the best to you in the future.