Thank you, Dean Cech. Good morning,
everyone. What a privilege this is for me, one of COT’s
new faculty members, to address this convocation!
Seeing all you graduates today (I see the familiar
faces) brings me back to a moment twenty years ago when
I was just starting my Air Force career. I first trained
as a jet engine mechanic—one of the two and a half jobs
I had as a graduate student. On the last day of
technical training, my instructor pulled me aside. He
was going to let me in on a trade secret—something about
what was waiting out there for me as a newbie in an
engine shop. He said, “You’ll most probably be a gofer
for your first couple of years.”
Now, I understood perfectly where he was coming from. I
was not the most mechanically-inclined student in class.
Okay, so I always thought Reed & Prince was a brand of
fancy silverware. He was looking out for me. So he
sits me down in front of the tool boxes in the tool
crib, opens metal drawers one by one, and asks me to
identify each tool: first, the ratchets; then the
wrenches, needle-nose pliers and safety-wire pliers; and
finally, the special tools—torque wrenches, micrometers, multimeters, rigid
borescopes and flex borescopes.
know that all you graduates are a lot savvier now than I
was when I first ventured into that totally new career
I won’t do as my instructor did 20 years ago. No,
we won't go through
the whole tool box. Let’s settle for just three—three
very important tools that you have to make sure you have
under your belt when you pick up your diploma tomorrow.
The first tool is called the Be on Time tool. A
poet once said, “A rose is a rose is a rose,”
and I know
that by now you graduates are really ready to say
goodbye to that hard line instructor who said to you, “A
deadline is a deadline is a deadline.” But remember that
what you carry away from that experience also goes by
The Be on Time tool is also
called punctuality or reliability. Among true pros, the
Be on Time tool is also called time management.
So let me let you in on a trade secret: you don’t get a
syllabus on your first day at the new job. You are now
true professionals; use the Be on Time tool
The second is a two-pronged tool. It is called the
Respect Yourself/Respect Others tool. You picked up
this tool from that chapter in your textbook. Remember?
It was called “Ethics.” This is a powerful tool! It’s
usually when you don’t use this tool that things blow up
in your face.
The Respect Yourself/ Respect Others
tool helps you do the right thing, and that’s because
you know that other people’s safety, their livelihood
and their wellbeing are in your hands. It’s easy to let
those little things like rules and codes and standards
slide. Remember that at the end of each work day, you
want to come home and still like yourself. So carry your
Respect Yourself/ Respect Others tool wherever
The third tool is a multitool. It works like a Swiss
It will slice, dice, cut up and open anything for you.
It is called the Be Willing to Learn tool.
Actually, we all assumed that you already knew about this
tool when you started taking courses here at COT. But
you sharpened your Be Willing to Learn tool
when you took more courses and learned how to analyze,
evaluate and question things around you—when you learned
about something called “critical thinking.”
you need humility and flexibility to operate the Be
Willing to Learn tool, but it is guaranteed to open
doors for you. It will help you advance in your career.
It will help you keep an open mind. The Be Willing
to Learn tool makes you open to all possibilities.
Be on Time, Respect Yourself, Respect
Others and Be Willing to Learn. Hold on to
these tools; they are very special tools. They don’t
break, and they never grow old. They don’t go out of
style. Don’t ever trade them in. Let them serve you
now some of you are sitting there quietly using your
Respect Yourself/Respect Others tool while saying
to yourself, “Well, she really didn’t say anything that
I didn’t know already…” So let me let you in on another
When we say that a teacher’s job is to create a learning
environment, we mean that teachers are learners too. We
also carry that tool belt! For example, we use our
Be Willing to Learn tool every day. You may not
know it, but by contributing to class discussions,
interacting with us and other students, communicating
your needs, and sharing your expectations, hopes, dreams
with us in and outside the classroom—we have learned
from you. We have learned how you learn. You have made
us better teachers.
today, we thank you for the time you’ve spent at COT.
We wish you well. We hope you keep in touch. You might
want to come back to COT to learn something new or to
upgrade your skills. Who knows, you might find yourself
teaching the next generation of professionals in your
career field! Tell them about the three tools.
one more thing. That Respect Yourself/Respect Others
tool, it comes with an extension. It’s called gratitude.
So again, graduates, thank you and congratulations! And
parents, partners, family and friends—congratulations!
We also thank you. You own this day too! May you
all have many more days like this one to come.
Thank you, everyone!