University of Vermont

217th Commencement Ceremonies - May 19 and 20, 2018

Greeting: The Honorable Philip B. Scott, Class of 1980, Governor of the State of Vermont
and Trustee of the University of Vermont

Governor Philip ScottThank you all very much, and congratulations to the UVM class of 2017.  

It’s a privilege to be back at my alma mater with you to celebrate this milestone.

Campus has changed a little since I graduated in 1980.  There was no Davis Center… and the Cook Science Building that is now being replaced by the new STEM complex behind you was practically brand new…that was so long ago, Ira Allen may have been my academic advisor…  

Now… I’m supposed to tell you there will be trials and tribulations, but that you can march forward into a future with confidence…because of the confidence you’ve honed here…because this is what we’re supposed to say to graduates…

And the fact is, this is all true…but only if you work to make it so. 

If you never stop listening and learning… exploring… and expanding your comfort zone… you’ll never stop finding enjoyment and fulfillment in your life, in your work, and in your relationships. 

And it’s true, the University of Vermont has done more for you than awarding the degree you’re about to receive...
If you remember the real things you’ve learned over the past few years…in AND out of the classroom… then the best is yet to come.

Of course, I realize some of you already know you’re going into business, and a few are heading to serve our country in the military…

Others will be engineers, artists, computer scientists, journalists, teachers, accountants, and so much more.  And, a number of you will be public servants – including Jason Maulucci and Sam Tully who I’ve already hired to join our team.

And to those of you who aren’t quite sure what you’ll be doing, here’s a little secret: I wasn’t sure at your age either…. And there are days when I’m still not sure… My path wasn’t straight… and it wasn’t always easy.

I may be a Governor now… but when I was 11, my Dad passed away from wounds he sustained years before in the World War II D-Day invasion, leaving my mom to raise 3 rather rambunctious boys…

When I came to UVM I studied to be a Tech Ed teacher because of my love to build, create, craft and problem solve.

I received my teaching certificate, but after my student-teaching experience I discovered that it just wasn’t right for me… so I went into business. But I never regretted going to this school, and to this day still use a lot of what I learned… even way back then.

Twenty years ago, I didn’t have a political bone in my body…  but as a business owner, I started to complain about what “they”, “them” in the legislature were doing to me and my business…

So I decided to stop complaining and be part of the solution… and ran for the state senate. And here I am…your Governor…and I’m still just a racecar driving, construction working, blue collar boy from Barre…and, of course, a very proud catamount!  

My point is this… you never know what hand you’re going to be dealt… where your educational experience will lead you…where you want to go… or maybe even how you’re going to get there. 

And, that’s okay …don’t over think it… that’s part of what makes life so interesting.  

It’s also important not to be afraid of pursuing opportunities when they come along…try new things and take risks. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’re selling yourself short.  Of course, no matter how hard you work… there will be times in your life when you’re nervous and not quite sure you’ve got what it takes.

So… If you find yourself in that situation… if you hesitate to pursue a dream job or take a risk… keep this quote in mind from the hockey great, Wayne Gretzky: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So take that shot, and even if you don’t get what you’re shooting for… always be the person who wants it the most… gets to work first… goes that extra mile… because people notice that…I notice that!... and remember, it’s always the little things in life that people remember.  

Today, you finish a chapter of your lives… It MAY be an important chapter… but it should not be the best… That outcome, however, is entirely up to you… and where you choose to go. And, to be perfectly honest I hope you stay here in Vermont…and help build our future.

In closing, I’d like to humbly offer you a few words I try to live by:

  • Always treat others the way you wish to be treated… it’s really a pretty simple concept

  • Understand how we act when we’re not in the spotlight is just as important as how we act when we’re on the center stage or on the field.

  • Owning and learning from our mistakes is character building… those mistakes are only weaknesses if we don’t use them to make ourselves better.

  • And finally… Understand the importance of integrity…because at the end of the day, it’s how most of us will be remembered.

Congratulations class of 2017. Go forward … always work to be better… because the best is yet to come.

Thank you.

As prepared for delivery on May 21, 2017

Last modified June 12 2017 08:04 AM