Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
2003 Promise Scholarship Tour
September 29, 2003

2003 Promise Scholarship Tour
Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2003
Clark College, Vancouver
Western Washington University, Bellingham
Gonzaga University, Spokane
University of Washington, Seattle

Thank you for being here today.

When I was growing up, my parents taught me an important lesson: Education makes dreams possible. They instilled in me a passion for learning. They gave me love and support and encouragement.

But my parents were not affluent. Thanks to financial aid, scholarships and part-time work, however, I was able to attend college. I was able to choose my destiny.

A college education is part of the American dream. I believe with all my heart in the American dream.

The reality is: there are plenty of scholarships and financial aid available for students from low-income families. And students from high-income families can afford to attend any college they choose.

But for students of working middle-class families, there aren’t that many choices out there. And that’s why I proposed the Promise Scholarships.

These scholarships are a “promise” to Washington young people: If you achieve and need help to go to college, we will help you.

We are in our fifth successful year, with 7,000 students eligible for scholarships. That gives us all a lot to celebrate!

It’s great to see such promising young minds making the most of this opportunity. I wish all of you an enriching and rewarding college experience.

And I would like to offer a few humble suggestions.

I encourage you to be open to other learning. Make the universe your university. Learn about other subjects besides your major. Remember that it’s valuable to explore.

Learn about the people with whom you share your college experience. Try new things. Learn about life.

And, especially, learn about yourself. Spend time getting a sense of who you are, who you’d like to be, and what you’d like to do. Not just in your chosen field, but in life generally. Explore your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions, and your interests. Stretch and grow.

Higher education does something much more important than just impart knowledge, as important as knowledge is. It helps you further develop your own personal habits of mind and critical thinking skills. These habits of mind and ways of looking at the world become your equipment for living for the rest of your life.

Another suggestion: Commit with passion. Confucius advised, “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” Abraham Lincoln counseled, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” And Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”

They were right.

As you commit with passion, take some chances. Don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll be stronger from your struggles.

Albert Einstein once remarked, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Imagine how the world would be today if Einstein had never tried anything new!

And Robert Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Reflect on the world’s great accomplishments throughout history. Can you name any that happened without risks, setbacks, failures or imperfections?

One final suggestion—have fun! College is a time of tremendous energy and freedom and change and growth. The campus environment is like no other. Enjoy it! Take courses from the most exciting, engaging, entertaining professors! Take time to smell the roses, and have fun.

We also know that behind every good student are many people who care, nurture, encourage, motivate and sacrifice. I want to thank all of you—to the mothers and fathers, the teachers and counselors, the family and friends who are here today—thank you.

And finally, congratulations to our Promise Scholarship recipients.

You have worked hard. You show great promise. And our promise to you is that we will help you on your way to your dream.

Because we believe in you. And we’re proud of you.

Thank you.

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