Thank you Dean Cyboron.
President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, fellow graduates, families, and friends, aloha and good evening.
It is my honor and privilege to be standing here this evening representing the military campus programs as valedictory speaker.
First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Wright and all the folks in the Military Campus Programs. Without your understanding of the hectic military lifestyle a lot of us active duty military and family members would not be able to complete degrees. We all owe you a gracious thank you.
When I called my parents to tell them that I was selected as valedictory speaker, they congratulated me and said all the things you would expect parents to say. But, my dad unexpectedly added a little to his congratulations. My dad, like any other parent, doesn't forget a thing. As he was congratulating me he said "not bad for a kid who had to pass a final exam to graduate from high school." Of course, I had forgotten all about that. When I asked him what he was talking about he went on to remind me that my high school had sent them a letter two weeks before graduation saying that I needed to pass the final exam in Government class to graduate.
I had all the credits needed, but Government was a prerequisite to graduate and my mind wasn't on my classes. I had already signed up for the Navy and was ready to leave the next month. So, school had taken a back seat. This was a bad idea because school was never really in the front seat. We'll just say that my priorities were elsewhere. I knew enough that if I went to college on my parents' dime, it would have been wasted. So I joined the Navy. Now here I am, 16 years later and my priorities are all straightened out. I have a wonderful wife, Julie, who is also graduating this evening with a BS in Math, two beautiful children, Madeline and Mark Jr, and a very - rewarding - career.
Fellow graduates, as you move on from this evening I ask you to think of this quote from Tom Brokaw:
"You are educated.
Your certification is in your degree.
You may think of it as the ticket to the good life.
Let me ask you to think of an alternative.
Think of it as your ticket to change the world."
May God bless our troops that are fighting for our freedom around the world, and may God bless America.