SMC commencement speaker tells graduates to keep moving forwardPublished 6:35pm Sunday, May 2, 2010
For those Southwestern Michigan College graduates participating in the 43rd commencement ceremony Saturday, success was not just measured by the diploma they received, but also by what they accomplish as they move forward, according to commencement speaker Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association.
The college awarded 328 associate degrees and certificates to SMC students during the ceremony held on the Dowagiac campus.
In addition, 21 students received bachelor’s degrees from Ferris State University at Southwestern Michigan College.
“In trying to define this notion of success a bit further, it might be useful to examine the origin of the word, and in doing so, you’ll find that the word ‘success’ actually comes from the Latin word Succedere, which means to go forward from below,” Hansen said. “In other words, it is a very active word and implies motion and forward movement. So when we celebrate success, we have this sense to think of it not as a goal we’ve accomplished, as though we’re at the end, but rather as a step along a process toward other things.”
Hansen, who represents the state’s 28 community colleges in Lansing, told graduates it was a privilege to be a part of these ceremonies at an institution for which “I have so much respect, and is recognized by the community for its outstanding level of academic excellence.”
“If for no other reason, all of you today should be incredibly proud of this college and be aware of what an honor it is to be considered an alumnus from this exceptional institution,” Hansen said. “And as you know, the success of this institution is in large part a reflection of the success of its students. And the fact that all of you will walk across this stage today is a clear measure of your success.”
Hansen explained that while graduation is a measure of a student’s academic success it is not the only definition of achievement they will encounter in their life.
“You have all proven, and we are here today, to reward and congratulate you for your academic success,” Hansen said. “But is academic success really the best measure of success? Because there clearly are other measures, like financial success, or professional success in your career, or even athletic success – and all of these measures of success are respected, honored and rewarded to varying degrees in our society.”
Hansen asked graduates to think about who has been the most important and most influential in your academic success. Then, he directed the graduates to say out loud the name of that person.
“So why was this important? The beauty of this (Native American) tradition is to emphasize that while we are celebrating and rewarding individual success and accomplishment today, none of you did this alone,” Hansen said. “All of you got here because of the help and care of others, whether it be from parents, friends, spouses, teachers, counselors, whatever – there were many people involved in your success today.
“And so no matter what the rest of your life entails, no matter what path you choose to follow, I know that you all will continue to be a success, continue to climb, grow and gain new perspective.”