Commencement Ceremony, Oregon Institute of Technology
June 11, 2011
Carol Lynn Pearson, an American writer and poet from the 1970’s, once said: “Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.”
We have all had our heroes that brought us to where we are today. We have all confronted our dragons, whether it was a professor, a midterm, or a fire-breathing final. And from this experience, we have drawn out the treasure of our true selves.
Today, I’m here today to talk to you about heroes. Yes, heroes – the dragon slaying, treasure gathering kind. It’s in all of us. I’d like to talk to you about the dragons that we, as heroes, slay. I’d also like to talk to you about the grand reward, the treasure of our true selves.
I’d like to encourage you to think of your hero when you were young. Maybe it was your mother or father, or an athlete, or a teacher. Think to a time when your hero inspired you to be anything. Many of us will go on to be these things after today, because of our heroes.
My hero was my father. He spoke at graduation, graduated with honors, and served our country in the Air Force for 20 years. So today I want to say, thank you daddy, for being my hero, and inspiring me to be a hero to others.
We are all on a journey as our own heroes. We will go on to inspire others, whether it’s our children, future children, a spouse or significant other, and our colleagues and friends.
Ronald Reagan said 30 years ago, “We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.” I am here to tell you that heroes are all around us. There’s a hero sitting right next to you! Someday, maybe someone will give a speech about how you influenced their life, and it all starts today.
No matter what kind of hero we are, there are always dragons in our way. These dragons can be disguised as a midterm, a final project, a practicum, or wearing the mask of a professor.
Dragons may breathe fire and seem enormous, but they aren’t invincible. There have been times that we, as college students, have faced dragons we couldn’t seem to defeat. From the horrible tests you never thought you’d pass, to the professor you swore hated you. From the days we trudged to class in snow and ice, or the days we missed that test because we were sick, or in my case, my kids were sick
Victory is at hand – we have defeated our dragons!
The degree we all receive today is just one more dragon we have slayed. Only a few more steps to success, whether it is going on to a job you love or just going on to a job. What’s behind that dragon when you slay it? The treasure of course! Isn’t that what all heroes seek? We, as heroes, seek the treasure of our true selves. What is our true selves you might ask? Well, let me tell you.
Finally, over the last 4 years, we have truly found the treasures of our true selves. Our treasure lies in the abilities we have discovered, developed, and fine tuned. From using the microscope in biology, to the precise hands of a medical professional, and the organized speech of communication, we have all each learned skills that prepare of us for the real world.
These skills will benefit us for a lifetime. We have learned not only skills, but things about us personally, as well. We learned how to work in groups, how to meet a deadline, and how to organize our schedule.
Carol Lynn Pearson was right – look at us! We started as kids with dreams and heroes, went on to slay our dragons, and have developed the treasures of our true selves. Our experience at OIT will last a lifetime. We will always look fondly back at these days, and we will miss them. Congratulation class of 2011! Go forth and be heroes to others, slay those dragons in your way, and never stop discovering the treasure you each hold within yourself.
–Rebekah Dodson, M.A.
Watch this Commencement Speech for the Class of 2011 HERE.
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