Media Room

Portland Workforce Alliance Breakfast

Thanks Luis for the introduction. I look forward to seeing your career take off.

Luis, you and every other student in the room are here today because you are a living, breathing example of Oregon’s future. And everyone else in this room - business leaders, elected officials, and me – are here to help you shape that future.  .

Because you are Oregon’s future, and we all have a stake in your success. You are the next generation of leaders, creative thinkers and problem-solvers. You will run the businesses and governments of the future. 

Your ideas and abilities, your leadership and commitment, have the power to change the world in ways large and small. 

And just as the people in this room are working to awaken you to the power of your own potential, one day, you will have the opportunity to do the same. 

A great example of this is D’Wayne Edwards. From a very young age, D’Wayne liked to draw. When he was 11, he drew his first picture of a shoe. Later, D’Wayne decided he wanted to draw shoes for a living. But, he was told that an African American kid from South Central Los Angeles was never going to have a career designing shoes. 

He sure proved them wrong.

With talent and persistence, D’Wayne became a designer at age 19 – at the time, the youngest professional footwear designer in the industry. In 2000, he moved to Oregon to work for Nike and eventually achieved his dream to design an Air Jordan.

But, he didn’t stop once his dream was fulfilled. He gave back through mentorship. D’Wayne founded PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy, training the next generation of shoe designers, maintaining Portland’s reputation as the creative center of the footwear industry, and creating a few jobs along the way. 

I have a request that I ask each of you to store away for later: I ask that, years from now, when you are established, when you are in a position to give back, commit to investing in the next generation of young people. Give of your time and talent. Remove barriers. Provide opportunities for meaningful experiences that awaken them to the power of their own potential. 

For my part, as Governor, I’m working to create experiences in the classroom that replicate real world jobs. Career Technical Education and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs are the best investment we can make to help Oregon’s students graduate ready: ready for college, ready for post-secondary training, or ready for jobs.

High school graduation has traditionally been portrayed as the finish line. But I say, graduation isn’t the finish line; it’s a launch pad. Oregon students deserve an education that empowers you to envision your future; that helps all students make the connection between classroom and career.  

Keeping college affordable is one way to accomplish this, but college isn’t always the right path for everyone. 
Last year, the state doubled our investment in CTE and STEM programs, expanding opportunities to students throughout the state, in both urban and rural communities. 

We know that, for students who participate in CTE and STEM, school becomes relevant.  They score higher in math and reading, are more likely to graduate from high school with a plan for their future. 

What’s important is the realization that there are several ways – whether it’s college or CTE programs - to build a workforce to that can fuel Oregon’s economic future. 

You are that future. 

Looking around at the faces in this room, I can see a tremendous amount of promise. I see hope. I see aspiration. And yes, I see a little bit of sleepiness, too. I understand – it’s early.

It’s also early in the sense of your careers, too. Today, you are taking the first steps in the journey that leads to your future. 

I know I speak for everyone in this room when I say, we believe in you. We are working to keep the path smooth and the way clear. We are invested in your success.  

So here’s to your safe journey, and to Oregon’s bright future.   

Thank you.