Reilly: ‘It’s what you do with what you’ve got’
"Not to put any pressure on you [but] the future really does lie in your hands!"
When University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly came to the Kenosha campus, his aim was to strike a balance between current reality and future possibilities. While addressing the 2012 graduating class of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Sunday, Dec. 16, Reilly told students they might not have ready-made solutions to every problem but that they were well prepared to try.
"I'm here to break it to you that the diploma you're receiving today doesn't mean you have all the answers," Reilly stated. "But it does mean you are much better equipped to find those answers--or even to find more questions!"
He continued, "To help you thrive in whatever future lies over the horizon, the dedicated faculty and staff here at UW-Parkside have worked hard to arm you with the necessary knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to greet each day with confidence--an enlightened readiness for what the future, with all its unknown challenges, might hold."
Quoting UW System Regent, and UW-Parkside graduate, Michael Falbo, Reilly told graduates success is about what you do with you've got. To make his point, Reilly contrasted the reality of plain metal to the possibilities of what could be fashioned from it.
"Years ago, one of Ripley's famous 'Believe It or Not' cartoons pictured a plain bar of iron worth $5 and pointed out that if you forged the iron into horseshoes, it would then be worth $10.50; if you used the iron for making needles, it would be worth $3,285; and if you turned the iron into watch springs, the value would soar to $250,000. There's a big difference between $5 and $250,000. Again, the difference is what you do with what you've got."
Noting the majority of UW-Parkside students collecting degrees that day were first generation graduates, the first in their families to attain a university diploma, Reilly found the Class of 2012 inspirational.
"Many of you graduating today have inspiring stories to tell about overcoming significant obstacles to earn your degrees. Some have had language barriers. Others have worked extra hard, and extra hours, to finance your education," Reilly said. "And many of you-- more than 60%, in fact--are the first in your families to achieve a college degree. Talk about trail blazers!"
He welcomed the graduates into "dynamic community of University of Wisconsin alumni" saying they were taking their places among some of the world's most capable and respected citizens. And while wishing them professional success, Reilly encouraged them to strive for personal fulfillment as well.
"Yes, getting a good job is part of what's driven you. But for many, there is an equally strong drive to improve lives, build stronger communities, and expand intellectual horizons," he said, adding, "In the end, I certainly hope that at the base of what we have provided to you is the knowledge and perspectives to help you recognize what is true and good and beautiful in your lives."President Reilly's speech can be viewed on the UW-Parkside web site.