President kicks off new year with Convocation Address

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President Mary Ellen Jukoski addresses Convocation 2016

“Today, we gather to officially welcome all members back to start a new academic year.” And so the 2016-2017 school year was officially kicked off at Convocation by President Mary Ellen Jukoski. (Her complete address follows.) Welcomes followed by Deans Jerry Ice and Steve Finton, faculty member Nicola Ricker, and Student Government President Danielle Spada were concluded with an unveiling of the College’s new website. The event was coordinated by faculty Heidi Zenie and Celeste Arrieta.

Convocation Remarks by President Mary Ellen Jukoski

Good morning and welcome to the official start of the academic year with the annual Convocation. According to Webster’s dictionary, one definition for the word convocation “is a ceremonial assembly of members of a college or university.” Today, we gather to officially welcome all members back to start a new academic year.

I am very excited and enthusiastic in welcoming you to Three Rivers, where our mission is to educate and transform lives. I want to provide a warm welcome to the faculty and staff. I want to officially welcome and recognize our new students. Would you please stand so that we can recognize you. You are now part of a powerful academic community. You are now a member of the Three Rivers Community – a community of teachers, nurses, writers, and scientists who advance learning to transform the world.

You come to this college to make the room of your mind an interesting place to live for the rest of your life. You come to Three Rivers to grow in knowledge and also to grow within, in your inner spirit, to use all that you learn and all that you encounter for your own self-reflection and self-examination in order to make better choices for yourself and others. You come to a community college because it’s important to be connected, to know you are part of something bigger.

You want to be taken seriously and to influence your surroundings. Here you will learn your voice by exercising it and influencing others. Our students tell me that they are more than students here. They leave footprints on this place.

For our new students as well as our returning students, make the most of your educational experience at Three Rivers. I have 3 pieces of advice for you:

#1. Love the journey, not the destination. What does this mean at Three Rivers?   You are not here to get a degree. You are here for an education. An education is priceless. Research suggests that graduates today will change careers on the average of seven times in their lifetimes. An education makes you successful for life and it will be of value to you throughout any career change. When you graduate, there will be thousands of people out there with the same degree, but there will be only one of you.

Make every class, every assignment, every encounter with a classmate, a faculty member – every opportunity count. Look around you. The differences here are powerful and amazing. Get to know people who are different than you. A truly educated person has the freedom and desire to engage with differences.

You do not know the truth about something unless you know how someone thinks who is different than you.

Expand and deepen all that you know and all that you are. If you major in business, study philosophy and ethics. If you major in biology, study music. This is perhaps the boldest adventure of your life. Love the journey, not the destination. When you graduate, I will be proud that you earned your degree, but I will congratulate you for all that you have become on the journey. Love the journey.

#2. Learn your passion. You will study English, business, biology, art. However, you’re here to learn your passion. Love what you do and do what you love. This is your time to intellectually explore various disciplines and to test them with your gut. Ask yourself…Does this turn me on? I grew up always wanting to teach, but I loved several areas: literature, philosophy and art. If you’re not doing what you love and loving what you do, nothing you accomplish will make a difference – for you or for others.

#3. Make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not pushing yourself deep enough and far enough. Education means stretching your boundaries. Testing the reality around you and testing yourself. This is your time to challenge and push yourself to the utmost. You don’t have permission to explore; you have the duty to explore. By exploring, you won’t always get everything right. That’s okay. Learn from your mistakes. This requires acknowledging them and owning them at the deepest part of our being. The most important lesson you will learn throughout your education is the ability to learn from your mistakes.

This advice is a formula for never settling for just being good enough. This is a time in our nation, in our world and in your life when good is not enough. Here, at Three Rivers, we will not let you be satisfied with good, because you have great within you. We are honored to have you among us and welcome you to this learning community.

As John Kennedy once said, “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which fulfilled can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

My hope and dream for each student is that this year may you hone your abilities as you grow and mature in wisdom, age and grace! Enjoy this year’s journey!

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