Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin praised OSU Institute of Technology and its 197th graduating class Friday afternoon when she took the stage as commencement speaker at the spring graduation ceremony.
“All of you believe in the power of education, which is why you are here. And you are right to believe in that, now more than ever,” said Fallin, who also pointed out that 50 years ago, 80 percent of the country’s jobs required only a high school diploma, and now that number has dropped to 35 percent.
“It was a different world. A more low-tech world, but the world has changed. It requires a faster, more skilled, more educated workforce. You are now part of that workforce. You won’t be turning a lever on a factory floor 5,000 times a day. You’re working in highly skilled careers that are truly amazing in their diversity.”
The 228 graduates, 64 percent of whom graduated with honors, will soon start careers in engineering, automotive technology, electronics, watchmaking, nursing, heavy equipment maintenance, culinary arts, orthotics and prosthetics, visual arts and energy fields.
“What makes OSUIT unique in the state is the emphasis it places on practical learning environments,” Fallin said. “Students learn by doing while using industry-caliber equipment and tools that make transitioning from classroom to career a seamless experience.”
OSUIT President Dr. Bill R. Path said nearly 700 different businesses and industries partner with the university, and it’s these relationships that make the university one of a kind in Oklahoma.
“At OSUIT, we feel that our job is not done when a student walks across this stage and receives a diploma. To us, student success is measured by how many graduates successfully enter the workforce,” Path said.
The graduates at OSUIT represent a new wave of citizens working hard to grow the state’s economy and keeping it moving in the right direction, Fallin said.
“As your governor, I’m asked all the time: what can we do to reduce poverty? What can we do to bring more jobs and businesses to Oklahoma? What can we do to keep the ones we already have? What is the solution?” she said. “Well, here’s the honest answer— you are.”
Fallin also offered the graduates a few pieces of advice, including to give back to their community, wherever that might be, and that there’s no limit to what they can accomplish.
“It won’t always be an easy path to success; life will not always be perfect and there will be disappointments and setbacks, but always remember, setbacks are opportunities for comebacks.”