REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Linn-Benton Community College Commencement Address
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Good evening class of 2019.
President Hamann; families and friends; faculty and staff.
I am honored to be here today in celebration of this incredibly important milestone in your lives.
Linn-Benton Community College is truly a special place. This is a place where, through a potent mixture of caffeine, adrenaline, and perspiration, you all have been transformed from a regular person to a college graduate.
Your education is the most important investment you can make in yourself and your future.
No matter where you’re from or how old you are, it is fairly common for many graduating students to have a little anxiety mixed in with their excitement about finishing college and heading out into the uncharted territory of what is commonly called, “the real world.”
But the truth is, many of you are on very good terms with the real world already.
Some of you struggled continually to make ends meet, caring for your families, working one or more jobs while you went to school.
Others faced significant challenges, such as returning to school after the stress of active military duty, or undertaking major career changes due to a wave of automation.
And a few might be looking for a change of pace because the other options just weren’t feeding your soul.
I am very proud of each and every one of you for the sacrifices you have made and the challenges you have overcome.
Each dark moment along the way, when you weren’t sure if you were going to make it; when the babysitter canceled, or you had to work an extra shift, or your car broke down, again.
You graduates here today embody the Oregon Way. Values like Persistence. Resilience. Courage.
Take your classmate Maria. While in high school, her family threw her out of her home. After reaching her time limit at the Jackson Street Youth Shelter, Maria was faced with the prospect of sleeping on the street.
She was taken in by the family of a high school friend. Maria worked until just minutes before high school graduation to complete both her junior and senior years of study in just one year.
She was then accepted into the LBCC Culinary program. Maria has been thrilled to arrive at school before 6 a.m. every day to learn about food and the food industry.
At LBCC, she has discovered a love of learning, and a joy for sharing her knowledge with others. Maria plans to continue her studies at Oregon State University. And she dreams of opening her own restaurant where she can help people like herself get on their feet and into good careers.
Persistence. Resilience. Courage. These values have propelled you all forward, toward this degree and the many accomplishments in front of you.
In the pursuit of your education at Linn-Benton Community College, you have discovered new passions, new aptitudes and affinities – in short, you discovered yourself!
One of the reasons I wanted to speak with you today, is because I am so impressed by what is happening here on this campus. As I travel around the state, I speak with employers that are struggling to hire the qualified workforce they need. That’s why, last year, I launched Future Ready Oregon, a job training initiative. I want to close the gap between the skills Oregon workers have and the skills our growing businesses need.
And that’s where you come in.
What closes the gap are hands-on learning opportunities, like the ones you have at LBCC.
Take Kareem, who benefited from these hands-on learning opportunities.
Fresh out of high school, he packed up his belongings, left his home in southern California, and moved to Oregon to study Diesel Technology. During his first year at LBCC, he volunteered at an open house, where he helped a young child operate a backhoe. This child's parent happened to work for a company called Weyerhaeuser. The parent was so impressed by Kareem’s ability and attitude that he offered him a job on the spot.
Not only does Kareem have an Associate of Science Degree in Heavy Equipment Diesel Technology, but at 20 years old, he’s now a manager at Weyerhaeuser. He also is the first in his family to graduate from college. Way to go Kareem!
Because of the opportunities at LBCC, you all have mastered the fundamentals you will need to be an engaged citizen. And to thrive in a variety of careers and fields. You have all the tools and skills necessary to have a positive impact on the lives of those around you.
In the words of New York Times columnist and fellow Oregonian Nicholas Kristof, “It seems to me that we have this yearning for silver bullets, and that is not in fact how change comes about. Change comes through silver buck shot - a lot of little things that achieve results.”
You depart these halls today into a world that desperately needs your brains, your energy, and your dedication to create a more ethical, compassionate, and inclusive world.
So go out there and relentlessly inflict good.
Find satisfaction in small but important triumphs.
Getting that single mom a car that actually works.
Debuting a healthy menu at a new restaurant.
Getting the chance to afford to send your kid to college, too.
Don’t be discouraged by the breadth of the world’s problems and the absence of silver bullets. That isn’t how these problems will be solved.
They are solved by you. You, every day, making your communities just a little bit better.
Congratulations and good luck.
I can’t wait to see what you do next.