Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman
Nancy Wyman's Commencement Speech - May 11, 2012
I’d like to thank President Schmotter for inviting me to be here today – I am truly honored.
And I especially want to thank – and congratulate – the faculty, the graduates and your families.
After a lot of hard work and sacrifice - this day belongs to you - and I am honored and humbled to share it with you.
Each of you graduating tonight had a different reason for coming to this university - and each of you took your own unique path to get here.
Many of you are here because you want to take your career – whether it is in education or business, criminal justice or health care - to a higher level.
Some of you are here because you want a new career entirely.
But no matter what led you here, now that you have worked hard and are about to get that coveted degree in your hand, I’m sure you feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
And you should.
I suggest you enjoy that feeling - and take pride in the determination it took to be here - and then get ready for change.
Because I have come to learn that no matter how firm our direction is, no matter how straight the path we set, there will be a lot of surprise turns along the way.
And often what really matters most is how we respond to those turns.
I believe you should not be afraid of those unexpected curves, but should see them as opportunities.
I can tell you that I would not be standing here today if one of those surprises didn’t happen to me more than 30 years ago.
I was a young mother in Tolland with two daughters in grade school.
And to be polite - I thought the school board was messing up my daughters’ education.
I wasn’t about to sit back and let that happen - so I came up with what I thought was a great idea:
I wanted to impeach the Board of Education.
Of course, I had no idea how to do that - so I made a phone call to someone who I knew was involved in town politics.
Well, almost as quickly as I learned that you can’t impeach the school board – I was drafted to run for a seat on it.
Little did I know how that decision would change my life.
That fall, I was elected to the board of education that a few months earlier I wanted to dissolve.
So much for impeachment – now I was one of them.
My 8 years there led to 8 years as a state representative, and then to State Comptroller and Lt. Governor.
And all of that began by a phone call from a frustrated mother.
Just as it was impossible to predict how that one phone call would change the course of my life, there is really no way to know how today will change yours.
But there is no question that the education you earned here is an investment you have made in yourself – and I have no doubt it will pay off.
It is also an investment that I applaud as Lt. Governor - because your future is Connecticut’s future.
And because so many of you have chosen a career in education, you will also play a big part in our children’s future.
Governor Malloy and I believe that there is nothing more critical to the direction of our state than the quality of education our children receive.
We also believe there has never been a time when education - at every age – has been so directly connected to a better quality of life.
As I’m sure most of you know, just this week the Legislature passed an education-reform package that will affect students and teachers at every level - from pre-K through college.
To the 16 of you receiving your instructional leadership doctorates - which focus on education reform – who better to implement that reform than you.
And I want to assure all of you who are in the education field that the Governor and I are as committed to supporting you in the classroom as we are to supporting your students.
To the 13 of you receiving your Masters of Health Administration:
As a former X-Ray technician and former administrator of the state employee health plan – and now as Chair of the Connecticut Health Care Exchange – I don’t have to tell you that this is a rapidly changing field that is requiring all of us to adapt to new approaches, and I welcome you into the fray.
No matter what degree you are receiving tonight, I hope that you will put your new skills to use right here in Connecticut - because for too long we have let too many of our brightest leave for opportunities elsewhere.
One last thing.
I hope the degree you receive today has not only prepared you for a career - but will give you the power and the confidence to take on even more challenges throughout your life.
In a way, this degree gives you a new voice, or a stronger voice.
And I urge you to use that voice not only to improve yourself, but to improve your community and the world around you.
Do that by giving back – and by speaking out.
Use that voice to stand up for what you believe in - and to question what you don’t.
Because regardless of what you may achieve in your academic or professional career, realizing and using the power of that educated voice is perhaps the greatest success of all.
Thank you again for inviting me today.
I congratulate you all and wish you the best of luck.