Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
The Olympian Awards
May 13, 2003
I am honored to be here.
I’m honored to be in the presence of so much talent, promise, and dedication.
We can practically feel the intellectual energy surging from this group.
I’m hoping to pick up a few additional I.Q. points by osmosis.
As I look out tonight, I see National Merit Scholars, soccer standouts, noted musicians, and community champions.
I see gridiron greats, math mavens, tennis aces, political crusaders, and computer whizzes.
I see literary lions, accomplished artists, front-runners, court stars, and student government leaders.
And as I look out tonight, I also see the future.
Among you are tomorrow’s educators, engineers, medical professionals and authors.
Tomorrow’s scientists, professional athletes, elected officials and painters.
Tomorrow’s lawyers, film stars, recording artists, and business executives.
We may even have a future President of the United States among us tonight.
I hope a few of you become Governor some day too.
Although I’d appreciate it if you’d hold off until after I’ve completed my tenure.
You are the human highlight films.
You are the spirit of the people and the conscience of the community.
You are the movers and the shakers, the creators and the performers, the thinkers and the doers.
You are the ones who will shape generations to come and help guide the destiny of Washington state, America, and the world.
You are the mothers and fathers, role models, volunteers and leaders of tomorrow.
You will change the world, and make it a better place.
I confidently stand behind that prediction tonight.
I want to thank The Olympian and the organization Together! for creating these awards.
This is the third year for the Awards of Excellence.
The idea was that we hear too much about youth in trouble and young people who are headed down the wrong path.
These awards evolved from the knowledge that we need more positive examples and role models of young people who are excelling.
Young people like you.
Tonight we honor 166 students from 24 high schools.
You come from public and private schools, large and small schools, schools from across the South Sound region.
Your achievements are as impressive as they are varied.
Indeed diversity is our greatest strength, and this is an extraordinarily strong and diverse group.
Yet for all your diversity, you share one important quality that has defined your accomplishments:
You have a common commitment to excellence.
Whether it is excellence in academics, athletics, the arts, or community service, you are all highly committed—and highly successful.
And you are all enriching the lives of those around you.
As I learned about your many accomplishments in preparation for this evening, I was impressed by each of you.
Each of you is an outstanding example of excellence.
Every single one of you is an inspiration.
There are 166 success stories represented here tonight.
And all of your stories teach us what is possible when determination and ability meet opportunity.
If I had time tonight, I would tell all 166 stories.
Take a good look around.
Take in this moment.
Hold on to tonight.
This evening will be a talisman for you later in life.
When you meet the inevitable challenges and obstacles life will throw your way, remember this moment and what brought you here.
Because those same qualities will get you through anything.
You already know that you can make a difference—that’s how you got here tonight.
This is a state and a nation of great opportunities.
Great opportunities are within your grasp.
I know about these truths firsthand.
My family has lived these opportunities.
My grandfather came to America from China more than a hundred years ago.
He settled in Olympia where he worked as a houseboy for a family in exchange for English lessons.
Now I live in the Governor's mansion just one mile from where my grandfather lived — the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. History.
Our family jokes that it took one hundred years to travel one mile!
Our family also holds a few core values near and dear to our heart.
Among these values are hard work, a good education, and helping one another.
You are all making great progress in your own personal journey.
You’ve worked hard and seized opportunities.
You’ve benefited from a good education.
I’m determined to continue improving our education system so everyone benefits.
We’re continuing in our quest to make education a world-class experience for all students in our state.
We must do all we can to help those students who aren’t progressing quite as strongly or are having difficulty finding their way.
We must make sure all students have a chance to excel.
We must continue to work to ensure that opportunities are available to all Washington students.
You affect more people than you know, every day.
Each of you is a role model, standing for the power of hard work and applied ability.
I encourage you to continue helping others and giving back to your schools and your communities.
You have the power to change the lives of others by setting an example of excellence—and by giving them your friendship, support, and encouragement.
Your families are proud of you.
Your teachers and school administrators and communities are proud of you.
Your friends are proud of you.
And I am proud of you.
To the parents, teachers, friends and relatives of these outstanding young people, congratulations.
You’ve done a great job of nurturing and supporting these sons and daughters of our state.
To you students: tonight is your night.
You are proof that South Sound’s young people are making a big difference.
I encourage you to keep making a difference.
Dare to dream big dreams.
Be pioneers. Be the first.
And keep helping others, too.
In college, sample a variety of courses. It’s okay not to have definite plans or a major.
On behalf of the people of the state of Washington, thank you for your outstanding contributions to our state.
Congratulations on your accomplishments.
We’ve seen amazing things from all of you already.
We can’t wait to see what comes next!
Best wishes for a brilliant future.