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Trine Commencement 2012
Hastert encourages Trine graduates to ‘do extraordinary things’
ANGOLA, Ind. – “Life expects ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” former U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert told nearly 500 graduates in his address at Trine University’s 127th annual commencement ceremony May 5 in Hershey Hall. This was one of the largest graduating classes in the university’s history.
“Whether you’re a teacher, in business or Speaker of the House, it’s constantly how you deal with the problems and relationships that you have every day,” Hastert said, adding that to achieve “it takes purpose … passion … persistence … and patience.”
Trine University president Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., presented Hastert with a Doctor of Humane Letters for his civic contributions as a legislator, teacher, coach and teacher.
Hastert served as Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007 and was instrumental in passing historic legislation to create a Department of Homeland Security, the most significant restructuring of the federal government in the last 50 years.
Before his achievements in Washington, though, he told graduates that he started his career in education, as a way to repay mentors, family and friends who helped him earn a college degree. What started as a five-year endeavor at a small school turned into a 16-year adventure of teaching government, economics and everything in between, as well as coaching football and wrestling. He also drove a school bus, which he said prepared him most for serving as a legislator.
“I had to keep that big yellow machine between the lanes,” Hastert said. “It was bigger than almost anything else on the road. … I had brake pedals and stop signs, but up in front of you was the most important tool you had, the mirror, which protected your back.”
When first campaigning for Illinois legislature, before being elected to Congress, people questioned his reasoning and told him that he was “a wrestling coach” and the county chairman told him they already had a candidate. Hastert beat his opponent and went on to show others that he was more than what others had defined him as. Hastert went from an office in a locker room to an office with chandeliers overlooking the National Mall. He encouraged students to persevere, and, in so many words, to not let others hold them back.
“If you have a repository of knowledge, if you work hard, if you excel or work hard to learn more than anybody, all of a sudden, people will come to you,” Hastert said. “Knowledge is power, not only the knowledge you’ll get out of this diploma, but the knowledge you’ll create.”
Following Hastert’s encouraging speech, nearly 500 graduates received their diplomas.
“You have achieved a very significant new beginning,” Brooks said. “The new opportunities that will present themselves, because of your new beginning, are also cause for celebration. … I hope you will remember this day and this university as you travel your new path.”
Brooks then told graduates they were now part of the university’s alumni association and said they were welcome to “come home” anytime.
Robert B. Stewart award recipient Valerie Coulter, who will begin pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering at Yale University this fall, told her classmates about the importance of taking care of one another.
“This is a small school made up of people with big hearts. I challenge you to take this spirit of community and empathy into the world with you,” Coulter said. “A little bit of care can do so much to prevent (the world from tearing apart). Our tiny class could change the world just by listening, just by getting involved, just by showing we care.”
To share your news, contact Trine University communication specialist Lindsay Winslow Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.