Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
The Olympian’s 2004 Awards of Excellence
May 18, 2004

Good evening—I am honored to be here.

I want to start out by thanking The Daily Olympian for recognizing the South Sound’s best of the best – for their achievement in academics, arts, athletics and service.

Congratulations to all of our outstanding young scholars—and to the parents, teachers, family members and friends who have supported you and believed in you.

You are about to set out on a new adventure—a college education. Tonight, I would like to humbly offer a few suggestions about life after high school.

College is a collection of courses and credits. You’ll spend countless hours in the lecture hall, in the library, in the lab and at the laptop. Hours of reading and writing, testing and talking. Probably not enough time sleeping. And hopefully not too much time cramming!

You probably know about this part of college life already.

But I encourage you to be open to other learning. Make the universe your university. Learn about other subjects besides your major. Consider life without a major for a while—it’s valuable to explore. And even after you choose one, take courses outside your major. Learn about the people with whom you share your college experience. Try new things and acquire new experiences. 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 in life. Not just in your chosen field, but in life in general. 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. Higher education will help 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 the rest of your life.

College is a time of self-realization and self-fulfillment. You can become anything you want to be if you work hard enough and you’re truly committed to it. You’ve already shown that you can work hard to reach for your dreams. Take that same spirit with you into the years ahead, and commit with passion.

And as you pursue your goals, take some chances and 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!

Take a good look around. Take in this moment. When you meet the inevitable challenges life will throw your way, remember this moment and what brought you here. Because those same qualities will get you through anything. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail. As ironic as this may sound, it’s a formula for success.

One final suggestion—have fun! College is a time of tremendous energy and freedom and change and growth, and campus is an environment like no other. Enjoy it! Take courses from the most exciting, engaging, entertaining professors! Our colleges and universities are wonderful places to get an education, find a future career, and, yes, learn the meaning of happiness. Take time to smell the roses, and have fun.

You are an inspiration to others and a great credit to our state. We’ve seen amazing things from all of you already. And we can’t wait to see what comes next!

We wish you all the best of luck in the years ahead. Congratulations!

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