Fall 2013 convocation
Scott A. Schulz, dean of enrollment
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
We’ll revisit the meaning of Frost’s thoughts from the end of "The Road Not Taken" in a moment. But first I want to welcome you to Saint Martin’s University and congratulate you on the commitment you have made, not just to Saint Martin’s, but to yourself.
You’ve worked hard — in high school, community colleges, four-year colleges, the military, the public and private sectors.
But you realize there’s more work to be done. You’re ready to take the next step toward gaining a better understanding of yourself, our world, and your place in it.
Congratulations on accepting the challenge.
Of course, while the decision to pursue your education was ultimately your own, it would be unwise to forget those that have helped you pursue this path. Each of you had family members, friends, teachers, and mentors who encouraged you to dig deeper, go farther, and reach higher.
Many of them may even be here today. Please take a moment to show your appreciation and respect through a round of applause.
Now, over the last several months each of you has built a relationship with the Office of Admissions at Saint Martin’s University — hopefully a good one. We’ve learned a lot about each of you — who you are, who you would like to become, and how you will fit into the Saint Martin’s community.
And what a community it continues to become. This is the most academically prepared class of first-year and transfer students in the 118 year history of Saint Martin’s. You are also an incredibly diverse class from many places and backgrounds. You are a class from 10 states and 16 countries, including Brazil, China, India, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam; 40% of you are students of color; for 38% of our first-year students – you could be the first in your families to complete a baccalaureate degree; one-third of all of you are Catholic, with many other religious faiths and perspectives represented; and your academic interests are varied and interesting, with Biology the most popular major among you and Mechanical Engineering close behind; nearly a quarter of you are student-athletes. You are also musicians, artists, and writers. You have served our country and your local communities.
Our confidence in your capacity to be successful at Saint Martin’s has never been higher.
And that brings me to the main issue at hand. While getting into college is most certainly a commendable achievement, it is not the goal.
Right now, our nation’s capacity to compete in a global environment is being hindered by our underwhelming college attainment rates. Despite increasing numbers of students accessing colleges, degree completion rates have remained stagnant. Whereas the United States was once the envy of the world when it came to having an educated citizenry, we have since fallen drastically behind other industrialized nations in the percentage that hold a college degree hampering our economic vitality, as well as our health and civic involvement. Over the next decade, nearly two-thirds of all jobs in this country will require some sort of postsecondary credential. President Obama and others have set ambitious goals of improving our attainment rates. Our ability as a nation to meet the challenges of an ever more competitive landscape in the 21st century begins with you.
And that brings me back to Frost’s poem.
You will have many choices and opportunities during your time at Saint Martin’s University. We all know how the story needs to end. What we don’t know are the details of your journey. What will you write to make sure your story is worth reading? Will it be a story of perseverance, selflessness, intellectual curiosity, and growth? Will you take that road less traveled?
The faculty, staff, alumni, and monks of Saint Martin’s are here to guide you but it will be up to you to make the most of your collegiate experience.
We all look forward to seeing your stories take shape over the next few years, not only because you will be growing as individuals but because that growth will resonate throughout our entire community and provide hope for our nation as a whole.
Dean Richardson and Dr. Smith, it is my honor and privilege to present to you and the entire Saint Martin’s Abbey and University, this newest class of students for the fall of 2013. Thank you.