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Doyle advises UW-Eau Claire graduates to give back

Reprinted with permission from the May 23, 2004, issue of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

By Joe Knight
Leader-Telegram staff

Gov. Jim Doyle urged UW-Eau Claire graduates to make public service part of their lives and to make learning a lifelong process in the morning commencement address May 22 at Zorn Arena.

Doyle began by commending parents for emotionally and financially supporting the graduates.

"I know the sacrifices you have made," he said.

However, he cautioned parents that the graduates may still come looking for help for graduate school or other endeavors.

"This is the moment when you think you will be financially liberated," he told parents. "You're part-way there."

Doyle said the UW-Eau Claire campus and its faculty are evidence of the high priority Wisconsin places on education — a value that goes back generations.

"In Wisconsin we value education above all else. … It is crucial that you live this value and pass it on to those who come after you," he said.

He emphasized that learning should be a lifelong process.

"You never know what the future will hold," he said, but with lifelong learning the graduates will be better equipped to face change.

He asked students to work toward the common goal of making Wisconsin a place where all workers, despite their backgrounds, will have "good, family-supporting jobs."

He asked students to take to heart President John F. Kennedy's words — "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" — and to make service part of theirs lives.

Doyle said he and his wife, Jessica, were inspired by those words and joined the Peace Corps, which Kennedy created. They lived for two years in a small African village.

"We learned that the little we had to give was dwarfed by what was given to us," he said.

Service can take many forms — through jobs or churches or volunteer organizations, he said. The retiring faculty members announced at the beginning of the commencement ceremony were examples of people who have led lives of service, he said.

"You are part of the UW-Eau Claire family, and you will be forever," he said. "We need you to lead us into the future with your hard work and service. … Your dreams today are Wisconsin's dreams. Your successes are Wisconsin's successes."

In the afternoon graduation ceremony, Rev. Don Wisner of University Lutheran Church focused many of his comments on students who would be relocating to small communities.

"Can you now go from this university and find a continuing challenge for your curiosity, a welcome for your wisdom and a lab for your lifelong learning in one of the small places that might become your adopted home?" he asked.

Wisner reminded all graduates that they are part of the Wisconsin idea, "a pioneering notion that every citizen should have the opportunity to the benefit of higher education firsthand."

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