Saturday, May 12, 2012

Good morning, and welcome to the graduates, to my faculty and staff colleagues, to other University of Iowa students, to family and friends, and to honored guests. It is my great pleasure to share with you this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. Many people have made this day possible. Out there in the audience are parents, grandparents, husbands, wives, partners, significant others, children, brothers, sisters, and many other relatives and friends of the graduates. We thank you, too—everyone here who has made this day possible!

Last month, an event of national and international importance occurred in this very arena where we are celebrating your graduation today. We were very proud to host the US Olympic Wrestling Trials right here. One of the main reasons that we were lucky—and proud—to host this national event with international scope is the legendary history of wrestling here at Iowa. As you came to the arena today, I hope you took a look at the new statue outside that we unveiled at the Trials and that honors the embodiment of the wrestling legend here at Iowa—Coach Dan Gable.

Coach Gable—and our current coaches—certainly teach our wrestlers about excellence on the mat. But they also have much to teach the team members—and all of us—about life. One of Coach Gable’s most famous quotations is, “More enduringly than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill—none have wrestled without pride.”

Now I’m not saying you did not earn your college degree without great skill. You are here today, which means you did! But in college, we take courses in many different areas, and sometimes we experiment in unfamiliar fields. Sometimes there are subjects we struggle with, and sometimes we discover that our best talents may not lie in certain areas. That’s all part of the learning process. But one thing I think that all University of Iowa students do is approach whatever they’re doing with great pride—pride in the courage to face something new or challenging, pride in doing your best, and pride in achieving the best success you can.

That’s one of the most important things to carry with you out into the wider world. When you excel and achieve, of course, be proud. But be proud always, even when your boss asks you to try something new, when you set yourself a new challenge in the business you’ve created, when you start that new novel or painting, or when your community asks you to consider taking a leadership role with the PTA or the city council. You may slip a little in some of these endeavors, or you may discover new talents you never knew you had. But pride in your courage and your commitment to do your best will always carry the day. That’s what I’m asking you to do today—be proud always. And I’m pretty sure that Coach Dan Gable would ask you to do the same.

One of the greatest badges of pride for you to wear from this day forward is your degree from the University of Iowa. Congratulations once again to you all—on your path hard-traveled, on your achievements well-earned, and on your future brightly lit. And thank you, as graduates of this magnificent institution, for being—once and always—proud to be an Iowa Hawkeye!