University News

Continue Your Winning Ways

2018 Spring Centennial Honors Convocation Address

Dr. Jack Thomas, President - Friday, May 11, 2018 (Macomb campus) & Sunday, May 13, 2018 (Quad Cities campus)

Good afternoon. On behalf of the University community, we welcome you to Western Illinois University’s 2018 Honors Convocation. These are exciting times in each of your lives, and it is good to be here this afternoon to celebrate your many accomplishments. We now look to the future with confidence, knowing that our future is in the hands of great minds such as yours, the best and the brightest. It is an honor to be president of a university with such outstanding honors students.

I want to thank Dr. Rick Hardy, Director of the Centennial Honors College, Dr. Erik Brooks, Associate Director of the Honors College, Dr. Molly Homer and Michele Aurand, the honors academic advisors, Alex Geisler, Julie Schoonover, Kim Sedgwick, and the Honors Graduate Assistants who provide a tremendous amount of support for students in the Centennial Honors College. They are dedicated and committed to our honors students. Let’s give these individuals a round of applause.

It is important that we honor and recognize students who have earned significant academic accomplishments. Students, we honor you today with this special ceremony as a token of our appreciation for your hard work, outstanding achievements, and winning ways.

I am reminded today of a commercial where students in a classroom are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for one of their fellow classmates to solve a mathematics problem. Once the student solved the problem, everyone applauded and cheered this student on for successfully completing the problem. This is the kind of enthusiasm that we must have in education to make sure that the thrill of winning both in and outside of the classroom is not forgotten. You must continue to win by being the best individual you can be. After you commence from one stage of life to another tomorrow, continue your winning ways.

Students, we recognize you today as role models. You are our current and future leaders. You will go on to graduate and professional schools. You will become doctors, lawyers, educators, business executives, government officials, law enforcement leaders, scholars, academic administrators, and many other noble and professionals in other worthwhile fields. As you enter these fields of endeavor, continue your winning ways.

Looking ahead to the future, it is reassuring to know that we have these especially gifted individuals to assume the responsibilities of leading our communities, our nation and our world. As you become the leaders of tomorrow, continue your winning ways.

Students, I say this to you: if you will do your part to become a well-rounded individual who can contribute something positive to society; if you can develop love for all people, respect for yourself and others; if you can begin to apply the concept of treating others as you would have others treat you; if you can be determined to be the best person you can be and help others realize their full potential; if you can leave Western Illinois University a little better than it was when you came, then you will begin to understand what success is all about. You will continue your winning ways.

In considering where you are today, remember that you did not make it this far on your own. You must remember those individuals who helped you along the way and helped you to succeed. Famed artist, Pablo Picasso once said, “The Purpose of Life Is to Discover Your Gift. The Meaning of Life Is to Give Your Gift Away.” You must now give back to your families, give back to your communities, and yes, give back to your alma mater, Western Illinois University. This is a way that you can repay those privileges that you have enjoyed over the years. Lend a helping hand and help those who are in need. Share your skills and ideals that will be beneficial to all individuals. Be a role model for human generosity. Continue your winning ways by enhancing the human condition and caring for this world.

In closing, let me remind you that you must:

  • Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
  • Choose your words, for they become actions.
  • Understand your actions, for they become habits.
  • Study your habits, for they become your character.
  • Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.
    (Unknown Author)

As you form your thoughts, words, actions, habits and characters, continue your winning ways. Once again, congratulations on a job well-done. I look forward to greeting each of you individually as you cross the stage today as we celebrate your winning ways. On this special occasion, we wish you peace, prosperity and all the best in your future endeavors.

Thank you.