Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
GEAR UP Summer Institute Career Luncheon
July 17, 2003

Good afternoon. Thank you, Tashina, for that kind introduction. I am honored to be here.

It’s great to be in the presence of so much energy, talent and promise.

As I look out here this afternoon, I see the future. I see tomorrow’s educators, doctors, scientists, business-people, civic leaders, and artists—tomorrow’s role models. Maybe even a future Governor or two.

I hope all of you have enjoyed this week’s college experience. I hope you’re inspired to return someday to the University of Washington—or to one of the many other fine colleges and universities in our state. I hope every student in this room pursues a college education.

Education makes dreams possible. When I was growing up, my parents taught me that important lesson. They instilled in me a passion for learning. There was no question growing up that I would be attending college. The only question was how. But we knew that if we believed and planned, we would find a way. And we did.

When I was a student like you, I sometimes struggled. I worked very, very hard and didn’t consider myself among the best and the brightest. I was often one of the last ones to finish the test. I seemed always to need more hours of homework and study than some of my quicker classmates.

But I was able to make my way and I went on to college. And standing here today, I can tell you one thing: It was worth it!

I am here today because I had opportunities. And so do each of you. This is a state and a nation of great opportunities.

My family has lived these opportunities. My grandfather came to America as a teenager from China more than a hundred years ago. He worked as a house servant for a family in Olympia in exchange for English lessons.

Now I live in the Governor's mansion just one mile from where my grandfather worked— the first Chinese-American governor in the continental United States. Our family talks about how it took one hundred years to travel that one mile! But it is a mile we could only have traveled in America.

I reflect on how my own life has gone. I wasn’t any smarter, any luckier, or any richer than any of you are now. But I had adults who cared about me. People who believed in me. And I had opportunities.

You have adults like that, too, in your families and in your schools. Behind every good student are many people who care, nurture, encourage and motivate. Some of those adults are here today—let’s give them a round of applause to thank them for their support. [lead applause]

You have opportunities too. This week has been one of those opportunities. And higher education is one of the most important opportunities you will have a chance to pursue. It is a key that will unlock doors to self-fulfillment, career success, and financial reward.

I agree with something I read on the GEAR UP Web site this week: “College is not a dream. It’s a plan.”

I know you’ve enjoyed the past few days. This is a great place—and a whole new world. You’ve had a chance this week to take a peek into your future. You’ve been able to picture yourself in this new world. Do you like what you see? When you leave here today, hang on to that picture.

Start working and planning to make it real. Talk to your family and friends and teachers about college and about what you will need to do to get there. And keep talking with them in the months and the years ahead. Dreams are important. But don’t just dream about college—plan for it.

As you talk and plan, commit with enthusiasm, work hard, and believe in yourselves.

Commit to your goals with enthusiasm and passion. Confucious once said, “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” And Abraham Lincoln gave this advice: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” They were right.

When I say to work hard, I mean do those little things every day that will make you better students and better people. Read as often as you can, at least a little everyday. Learn about new things, and learn to do new things. Talk to all kinds of people, and listen to what they have to say. Think about yourself, who you are, and who you want to be.

Once school starts again, set goals and do your homework. If I sound like a parent, it’s because I am one! And these little steps you take every day will add up to big progress.

Finally, believe in yourself. When it comes to your life and your goals, that’s often what matters most. There will always be someone telling you that you can’t. But if you believe in yourself, there is always that voice inside to answer: Oh yes I can! Everyone here in this room today believes in you. I believe in you. Believe in yourself and you will go far—all the way to college.

You can become anything you want to be if you’re enthusiastically committed to it, work hard, and believe in yourself. I wish each of you the best of luck. Good luck as you finish middle school, and good luck in high school.

And best of luck when you start in at a college or university. We know you can do it, and we can’t wait to congratulate you!

Good Luck!

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