Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
All-Washington Academic Team
March 27, 2003

Thank you, Misty for that kind introduction.

Good afternoon everyone—I’m delighted to be here.

I also want to thank the outstanding culinary art students who put this great reception together—let’s give them a hand.

This is a great day for our All-Washington Academic Team—congratulations to all of you, both for this award, and for the accomplishments that bring you here today.

This is a great day for so many people—for families, friends and who helped you, supported you and even nagged you because they knew early on that you would excel.

Let’s give them a round of applause.

Just a few years ago, many of you were raising children or working a job, and you were living your lives without plans for returning to school.

But you did return.

Many reasons brought you back—for some it was to expand job skills.

For others it was to launch a new career.

And for some, simply to feed a natural hunger for knowledge.

Some of you wondered about the uncertainties of college study and whether you would achieve your goals.

But you knew you wanted and needed to try.

Whatever the reasons, whatever the motivations, the outcome is impressive:

You’ve shown that you are the best.

You’ve proven that to your professors, to your peers and to yourselves.

Diversity is our state’s biggest strength, and the 2003 All-Washington Academic Team represents an extraordinary range of people.

Some of you came from far away—like Thanh Dinh from Vietnam to Edmonds Community College, Jetmer Bakija from Kosovo to Peninsula College, and Lassaad Fridhi from Tunesia to Shoreline Community College.

Some of you have traveled far in other ways—like Kathi Dean, who commutes three hours a day, five days a week to attend classes at Yakima Valley Community College.

Some of you served your country first, like Stefan Alano of Highline Community College.

Some of you are athlete scholars like Terrance Troup of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom.

Some of you are older, returning students committed to new careers and new interests—people like Denise Hinnenkamp of Spokane Falls Community College and Wendy Strickland of Tacoma Community College—both 4.0 students by the way. Beatty Dimit who is 51 years old.

Together, you reflect a cross-section of backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and income levels.

Collectively, you’re living proof that we live in a meritocracy.

That can work their way to the top—one homework assignment and one final exam at a time!

Our community and technical colleges remain the great equalizers.

They allow us to cast a very wide net.

They allow us to spread a culture of learning and, in turn, a culture of prosperity to all of our citizens.

The stitching together of multiple cultures is the essence of the American way of life.

It is from this blending—this diversity—that we draw our vitality.

It is this diversity that makes us strong, and makes us America.

You are our Best and Brightest, and you deserve to be very proud of this accomplishment.

You are each living proof that the American Dream of a college education is alive and well.

You have come a long way to be members of the All-Washington Academic team.

You set out with goals and a dream.

You charted a course and followed it with dedication and determination.

That course led you here, to this moment and this award.

But the best is yet to come.

I am confident that as you continue on your respective journeys, you’ll continue to achieve great things.

And in the years ahead, you’ll stand as an inspiration and example to others who are struggling or are on a similar path.

You’ll be proof to them that it can be done.

I’m confident that you’ll reach out to them, pull them up, and inspire them with your stories.

That’s what makes you great students, and that’s what will make you outstanding citizens.

I wish you the best in your future aspirations.

I would add “good luck,” but it’s clear from the talent and intelligence gathered here today that sometimes luck is irrelevant.

We’re so proud of you. Again, congratulations.

Now, I’m honored to present a certificate to the 2003 “New Century Scholar,” Susan Deuell.

She is a running start student here at South Puget Sound Community College.

She is extremely grateful for the Running Start Program—and she is a case study in why it’s such a great program.

Susan completed algebra in the 3rd grade and calculus by age 13.

Running Start has allowed her access to a challenging curriculum and a social structure into which she fits well, right here at this college.

She will be attending the University of New Hampshire as their Tyco scholar to study electrical engineering.

Congratulations to Susan!

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