Recognition of the Graduates
Deborah Robertson, Chair of the Faculty and Associate Professor of Biology
First, on behalf of the Clark faculty, CONGRATULATIONS! Today, we celebrate your remarkable accomplishments as represented by the honors and degrees being awarded. As bachelors, masters, and doctoral students, you have had the opportunity to work closely with many different faculty members here at Clark. And, if I could be so bold, may I ask that you please join me in recognizing them and thanking them for their contributions to your education.
Early in my graduate career, one of my mentors shared the secret to success in science. Quite simply he said, 95% of one’s success in science is the result of perseverance, the remaining 5percent, just plain luck. While I knew he was wise, I learned soon after our conversation that this was neither an original idea nor true just for science.
Success in any endeavor results from some combination of perseverance and luck. As doctoral, masters, and undergraduate students, you know this. You are here today. You have persevered. You have tackled questions and problems that have required work in remote countries and field sites, you have worked with your peers, university staff, and faculty both in and out of the classroom to solve problems in complex communities, you have survived long hours in the library or in the labs of the Lasry Bioscience Center, and perhaps a long semester, or two, with a less than favorite roommate.
But what about luck? What is luck? In a dictionary, one might find luck defined as ‘the achievement of success through chance or good fortune.’ In a way, this definition equates success with finding a penny. Alternatively, and in the spirit of summer and baseball season, I draw from Branch Rickey (the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who signed Jackie Robinson, the first African American MLB player). Mr. Ricky noted 'Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.'
More recently, Oprah Winfrey, who coincidently will also be delivering a commencement speech this spring, has defined ‘Luck as preparation meeting opportunity.’
Today, it is my hope that your Clark education, both in and out of the classroom, has prepared you with the skills, knowledge, flexibility, compassion, and desire to take full advantage of the opportunities that await you.
As faculty, we hope that you have the perseverance and curiosity to seek and design new opportunities. And that with luck, through your preparation, you have great successes.
In conclusion, stay in touch. Share with us your challenges and successes. And, may you all continue to be lifelong learners who 'Challenge convention and change the world.'
On behalf of the faculty, congratulations and good luck to the entire Clark graduating class of 2013!