Senator Lisa Baker East Stroudsburg University Winter Commencement December 13, 2008

Thank you President Dillman. It is an honor to participate in today’s ceremony. There is something special about graduating in a season filled with hope, joy, and goodwill. Because, as Lincoln put it, “the better angels of our nature” are all part of the emotional mix you feel upon concluding a long and successful journey.

Author David Sedaris says he does not have the slightest idea how to change people, but he has compiled a long list of prospective candidates in case he ever figures it out.

Your collegiate career here at East Stroudsburg has changed you. You have made serious acquaintance with an amazingly broad range of subjects. You have achieved an incredible depth of knowledge in your areas of specialization. You have learned the many places to find answers, and you have acquired the tools to construct answers where none are to be found.

And you have gained the ability to do something else. As humorist Garrison Keillor said: “When in doubt, look intelligent.”

For those of us more than a few years removed from the classroom, the majors and course titles have a familiar sound. But the content of most, is much more sophisticated than in our day.

We had the nanny state. You have nanotechnology. We had butterfly nets. You have the Internet. We stood in lines. You go online.

As freshly-minted graduates, you will find new friends. Some will want to sell you insurance – life insurance, health insurance, renter’s insurance. In a significant way, you have already taken out an important insurance policy. By virtue of your degree, and the intensive study that led to the degree, you have ensured that your intelligence, perseverance, and scholarship are available to you and certified to us.

In tough economic times, the value of Pennsylvania’s state universities becomes all the more apparent, the value provided and the values instilled here at ESU.

It is easy enough to get discouraged by the bad news, and disillusioned by the bad judgment. It is not your fault that your graduation is timed for a low point in the economy and our spirit of confidence. It is hard not to question the cost. But the value of the education you have received will be repaid many times over. The ability to reason, to calculate, to create, to communicate – this is not just paper value that goes “poof” when the stock market tumbles.


  • Friendships forged over four or more years of shared experience will last forever. My college roommates are among my closest friends today.
  • Many will feel a lifetime connection to this campus, no matter how distant life, work, and family may take you. And if you try to cut the cord, rest assured, alumni affairs will find you.
  • There will be moments when a task, problem, or comment will trigger a memory, and spark the sudden realization: “Now I know what that lecture or lab was all about.”

In the same vein, there are reasons for continued optimism about the system you are about to join.

Take a look at the recent election. No matter whom you were rooting for or rooting against, we all had a front row seat for history being made. In the end, we were witness to two leaders, one in a moment of great triumph, the other in a moment of gracious concession, each eloquently speaking to the strengths and character of America.

We saw a revitalization and reinvigoration of the political process take place. It is apparent that many Americans who had given up on politics, or who had never been inspired by the process, found excitement and found meaning. The people and groups who became involved for the first time build the base for a more vibrant democracy in our future. Stay involved and connected.

The economy always bounces back. It will this time too. When it does, the recovery will be fueled in part by an infusion of new talent, new ideas, and new energy.

Talent. Ideas. Energy. Those are assets you have gained and honed here. Those are things our state and our nation need. Those are the attributes we hope you are ready to contribute. This moment is about our congratulations for your academic efforts – well done – and for the degrees you receive – well deserved.

My very best wishes to you and your families for a joyous holiday season.

Contact: Jen Wilson
(570) 675-3931

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