Fall 2010 President's Convocation - Remarks by M.W. Scoggins, Roel Snieder and Ashley Young

Remarks by Dr. M. W. Scoggins
President, Colorado School of Mines 
 
I am absolutely delighted to welcome the members of the Class of 2014 and their families to Colorado School of Mines. I know that this is a very exciting time in your lives, and we share in your great sense of anticipation. 
 
Convocation – which simply means a “calling together” -- is the symbolic start of a student’s academic career. It is the first opportunity for the class of 2014 to gather together as a group to start your upcoming college experience. For parents, convocation is your opportunity to share in the eagerness your sons and daughters feel as they begin this new phase of their lives – and to reflect on your changing role as parents of adult children. And, from a practical perspective, it’s a chance to catch your breath after all the commotion of moving into the dorms!
 
Following my remarks, you will hear from two other individuals who will share their perspectives on your college experience – a faculty member, Dr. Roel Snieder from our Geophysics Department, and a recent graduate – Ashley Young.
 
But first, I want to talk to you for a few minutes not just from the perspective of a university president, but also as the parent of three sons who have all finished their educations. 
 
To the parents in the audience, having been there ourselves, my wife Karen and I know this is an emotional time – a heady mixture of pride, excitement, and concern.
 
First, let me say that you should indeed be very proud of your bright and talented sons and daughters!   As I’m sure you know, Colorado School of Mines has the highest admissions standards of all Colorado’s public institutions. Your students have chosen to embark on a rigorous course of study rather than take an easier path.
 
As parents, you should rest assured that our primary purpose here at Mines is to provide your sons and daughters with the best possible educational experience. We have some of the world’s most renowned faculty members here and we are constantly enhancing the curriculum. We are also an active campus that is complete with many social activities –from clubs and professional societies to intramural sports and Greek life.
 
Our facilities are state-of-the-art and the campus is growing in ways that will positively impact our students’ lives. In the past few years, we opened this beautiful Student Recreation Center and completed the addition to the Center for Technology and Learning Media. Construction is currently underway for an addition to Brown Hall and a new residence hall – and we will shortly break ground on a new home for our Petroleum Engineering Department --Marquez Hall. Plans are also underway to build a new Student Health and Wellness Center.
 
Parents, today you are beginning a wonderful journey at Colorado School of Mines with your sons and daughters. I want to encourage you to be supportive of your students during this exciting stage of their lives. Their success here will be largely dependent on their focus, capacity for hard work, and perhaps most importantly, their initiative and their ability to move from dependence to independence. 
 
During that process, please know that they are in good hands with our tremendous faculty and staff –and that they will be receiving one of the finest educations anywhere. Our common goal is, after all, their success.
 
A college education for their children represents the dream of most parents -- and that’s because the importance of a college education can’t be overstated. The statistics are well-known. College graduates earn substantially more than non-college graduates -- and the gap between these two groups continues to grow. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 40% of the new jobs in this decade will require postsecondary education.
 
I’m sure it did not escape your notice that, according to Payscale.com, Mines ranked number one in the nation among public institutions for starting salaries of graduates with bachelor’s degrees. And we were recently prominently featured in Bloomberg Business Week magazine as the “biggest bargain” when considering the return on your investment.  
 
Of course, a college education is about so much more than these obvious career and monetary advantages. 
 
Students, this is a unique time in your lives to learn about yourselves and to shape the personal values and beliefs that will guide you in the years ahead. You will also be further developing the leadership and citizenship skills – and the character – to become contributing members of society. 
 
We are delighted that you have chosen to attend Colorado School of Mines. As I’m sure you know, the School enjoys a global reputation in engineering and the applied sciences, particularly in our focus areas of Earth, Energy and the Environment.
 
Because of our specialized focus, the core curriculum, and our relatively small size, there are unique opportunities here for us to work closely together and to get to know one another better. Some of these opportunities will be structured, such as the CSM 101 Freshman success seminar, and some will be unstructured. In either case, the friendships and associations that you make here will serve you well and, in many cases, last a lifetime.
 
I am sure you are interested in knowing about your fellow incoming students. You’ll be spending a lot of time together over the next few years!
 
The Class of 2014 is made up of 972 individuals, including 883 freshmen and 89 transfer students. 65 percent of the class are Colorado residents; the remaining 35 percent are from 39 states and U.S. territories and 14 countries. 26 percent of the class are women and about 16 percent identify themselves as multi-racial or as members of a minority group. 
 
As you would expect -- academically, this is a high-achieving group. The majority graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, with an average unweighted GPA of 3.8 and a composite ACT score of 29. A very impressive group!
 
Members of the class of 2014, you are now the newest members of the extended Colorado School of Mines community. One hallmark of the concept of community is the way in which individuals take responsibility for each other. I encourage you to take this seriously and help each other, as we intend to help you, throughout your time at Mines. I urge you to do this not only with respect to academic matters, but also outside the classrooms and laboratories.
 
Four years is a very short time to build the skills and knowledge base that you will need to take on significant responsibilities in the workplace and in society.   What we ask of you is that you will work hard with us for the next four years and participate fully in the Mines community.
 
Forty years ago I sat where you are today as an entering freshman at another engineering school. To just date me further, you can call that the pre-PC era. Yes, that means we used slide rules to do calculations – and I imagine many of you don’t even know what a slide rule is! The few computers we did have would fill up a normal classroom and had considerably less computing power than your laptop today—
and to use them we had to punch paper cards to enter our programs and data.
 
But, despite the differences in the technology, I think that the essence of what it takes to succeed in college has not changed much at all. So, the following advice comes from my personal experience as an ancient engineer and as the father of three sons who managed to successfully migrate through their own undergraduate programs:
 
  • Take full advantage of the upcoming orientation activities to get a good understanding of what’s going on, what to expect, and where to turn for help.
  •  Hit the ground running hard on the academic side. Don’t lose focus and let yourself get behind. 
  •  Don’t wait to seek help or advice. One of the primary differences between high school and college is that you must take the initiative.
  •  Look into the various academic enrichment programs, such as the McBride Honors Program and study abroad. Consider whether you want to pursue a minor.
  •  And finally -- get involved! Academics is just one, albeit high priority, side of campus life. There are many activities that encompass student life that will help shape you professionally and as a human being. 
 
Remember — you are the architect of your educational experience here — we are here to help you, but you are the ones driving the experience.
 
Our philosophy here at Mines is to provide a total residential campus experience, encompassing residence hall programs, athletics, recreational sports, student professional societies, internship opportunities, study abroad programs, and many more “co-curricular” activities that will add an important component to your college experience.
 
It has been said that there is a special character to a Mines education. Mines students develop problem-solving abilities, leadership skills and a strong work ethic. As such, we are internationally recognized for graduating professionals who are ready to work. Overall, our goal is to have you graduate with the skills, knowledge and character to have successful careers, to lead lives of great fulfillment, and to make a difference for the betterment of the world.
 
We live in a complex world facing difficult problems and challenges -- from large-scale natural disasters, to the need for new sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy sources, to the huge challenges presented by the developing world. We believe the study of engineering and applied science is of crucial importance to the world’s future. Colorado School of Mines, with its special mission in the development of natural and human resources, has a particularly important role to play.
 
Our graduates have an enormous capability to help improve the human condition, and they have a responsibility to do so. And for generations Mines alumni have lived up to this challenge.   Despite our relatively modest size, it is difficult to travel anywhere in the world without meeting Mines alumni and seeing the tremendous positive influence of this university.
 
I am confident that you, the members of the Class of 2014, will continue to uphold – and advance -- the School’s tradition of excellence.
 
I wish you all the best – and four years from now I look forward to shaking your hand as you cross the stage with your diploma!  
 
 
Remarks by Dr. Roel Snieder
W. M. Keck Professor of Basic Exploration Science
Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines
 
Dear students, parents, families of students, friends, and colleagues,
 
On behalf of the faculty I want to welcome you to the Colorado School of Mines.
 
We are a special institution with our emphasis in teaching and research on Earth, Energy, and Environment. These topics are important in a world with close to seven Billion people, a world in which many countries are rapidly developing. Managing Earth’s resources in a way that meets our needs in a way that is environmentally responsible is a huge challenge. I am happy to welcome this large group of students, many of whom will contribute to dealing with this challenge.
 
This challenge obviously requires creative science and engineering. Yet this is not enough. Many of today’s problems involve choices that society makes. These choices are determined by the values that we hold and by the degree to which we are informed and educated. The faculty and administration at Mines are aware of the wider impact of science and engineering, and you may be surprised to learn the breadth of the activities that take place on campus. To name a few examples -- students can now take a minor in energy and learn about many aspects of our energy system along with its challenges and opportunities; there is an active program in liberal arts that helps us rethink the connection between science and engineering and its societal impact; and we are actively building up a program in ethics education. These initiatives are essential, because we must find ways to reconcile profit-making and stewardship to have a sustainable future.
 
Parents, I first want to address you. You worked hard to raise your child, and are facing the expense of a college education. This is an exciting time; for many of you, your child is about to leave home and start a new life. My youngest daughter left for college today, and I understand the mixed feelings many of you probably have. Perhaps you are a little concerned about a lack of control that is about to happen, perhaps you find it difficult to let go of your offspring. On the other hand, your child is entering a new phase in his or her life. A new phase that marks the first step in a professional career, a new phase that will bring maturity, growth, and independence, a new phase in which lifelong friendships are being made.
 
This is the moment to release your child, to put your trust in your offspring, to let them spread their wings and fly! Have faith in your child! For the faculty it is a privilege to play a part in the college education of young people. I want to thank you for your trust.
 
Students, I hope you are excited to be here and enter a new phase in your professional and personal life. I am also excited to start working with a new group of students and look forward to working with you as a teacher. You will learn many new skills here, most of which are in the area of science and engineering. But rather than talking about the science and engineering that you will learn here, I would like to take this opportunity to speak to you about leadership and growing as a person.
 
Last year, President Scoggins presented me the article “What makes a leader,” written by Daniel Goleman and published in the Harvard Business Review. Goleman makes the point that genuine and effective leaders are strong in the following areas. Strong leaders display self-awareness; they are able to recognize their moods and drives, as well as their influence on others. Effective leaders are able to exercise self-regulation in the sense that they have insight into their emotions, and control their thoughts, words, and actions. Strong leaders are motivated and have a passion to go the extra mile, and they work for reasons that go beyond money or status. And finally, effective leaders have empathy. They are good at recognizing the needs of others and know how to respond to those needs.
 
All these skills -- self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy -- are social or human skills. I wish we could offer our students a course or a recipe to deepen those skills, but in practice such skills are difficult to teach in a classroom environment. Yet these skills are not only essential for being successful in the leadership role for which many of you are preparing yourselves while at Mines, they are also important for having successful and fulfilling professional and personal lives. You know, these skills are not easy to achieve or maintain.
 
I invite you to take what I am about to say to heart. While at Mines focus not only on your engineering skills, which obviously are important, but focus also on spending time on growing and deepening aspects of your personality that allow you to lead a balanced and fulfilling life. This requires broadening your awareness beyond the demands of your courses and the routine interactions with others. It involves bringing head and heart together, and it entails leading a life that is not run on auto-pilot. It means leading a life that is filled with conscious choices about who you want to grow into as a professional and as a person, and to work hard at becoming the person that you want to be.
 
For many students, and faculty too, Mines is a serious place. And indeed, much of the content of our work is pretty involved. Yet this does not mean that there is no place for joy and laughter. Please don’t forget these lighter aspects of our lives, especially since laughter literally brightens up our days. Try to make play and laughter part of your professional life; it not only makes the work lighter, but it also makes us more creative!
 
In closing I want to read you a few lines from a song by Lynard Skynard.
 
“Be something you love and understand.
Don’t you worry... you’ll find yourself.
Follow your heart and nothing else.
And you can do this if you try.
All I want for you,
is to be satisfied.”
 
 
“Learning to Lean”, Remarks by Ms. Ashley Young
2010 Colorado School of Mines Graduate
B.S., Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
 
To all you family and friends out there: Thank you for coming today as your new student makes their first of many steps at Mines. Welcome to the Mines family.
 
To all you new students: Welcome to college. Welcome to new friends. Welcome to new places. Welcome to a whole new life for the next four or so years. Welcome to Mines.
 
Recently I heard a quote that really resonated with me from an inspiring lady named Jane Jebsen. She said “lean into what will be, instead of longing for what was.” During your time at Mines, I would encourage you to lean into what will be, instead of longing for what was. If you’re willing to lean a little, that’s when you’ll find that you’ve gotten the most out of your college experience. Your Mines experience.
 
Imagine for a moment that you’re a building -- a skyscraper to be technically accurate. Your friends and family have spent your entire life up to now helping to build that skyscraper strong and tall. Your recent graduation celebrations were like the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the skyscraper; now you’re ready to go off to college and stand on your own. The winds of change are coming in your direction, and what do you do? Just like any skyscraper is designed to do: you lean into that wind.
 
There are a number of ways to lean, and I’m going to give you several examples of leaning that worked for me as a Mines student.
 
But first, a brief disclaimer: For any of these tips to work, you’re going to have to leave your room at least once a week, and hopefully much more than that. And I don’t mean just for a meal, class, or going home for the weekend.
 
Lean into something new
My very first piece of advice to you as new students is to lean into something new! Get involved with something on campus. I tried out Ballroom Dancing during my first semester at Mines, discovered I possess two left feet, and that was that. I also tried out Student Government as Student Body Vice President my senior year, wrote legislation, attended several City Council meetings, and discovered that I have a real passion for public service. You never know what might happen when you try something new!
 
Lean into studying with others
The academic side of Mines is also very important. You’re here to earn a degree in either a science or engineering field. And that commitment needs to be taken seriously. The key to academic success at Mines is learning to lean into studying and working with others. If you can’t find a study group, create one; it will serve you well later in your academic career at Mines.
 
Lean into finding a work-life balance
At the same time, you should lean into finding a work-life balance. More often than not, I tend to fall into the workaholic category. There are several of you out there who also fall into this category. And yes, you will have homework (that you should actually do) at Mines. Study hard! Do your best; it is possible to get the grade you want in that really hard class. But if you don’t take time off, stress can put that dream farther out of reach.
 
I learned about taking a break the hard way. Freshman year, I spent over half of my Friday and Saturday nights doing Physics homework. Did I get the grade I wanted? Yes, but it came at a high cost. Looking back now I realize how much time I missed with my friends as a result. The moral of the story is that you need to lean into finding a work-life balance.
 
Lean into new places
Lean into going new places. Take a trip, travel with a class, study abroad. Go see something beyond the beautiful Front Range, plains, and mountains of Colorado! During my time here I road-tripped to New Mexico for a friend’s wedding, worked in New Jersey for a summer internship, and traveled to Washington, D.C. and five Central European countries for classes—just to mention a few.
 
Lean into the collegiate experience
And don’t forget to lean into the collegiate experience; there are a ton of opportunities you will find only on a college campus. There are a multitude of varsity, club, and intramural sports in which you can either participate or support by just showing up. I traveled twice to St. George, Utah as a Band member to support the football team in the Dixie Bowl—an NCAA Division II bowl game. There are also a variety of conferences offered both on and off campus that you can lean into. These conferences can help you become more involved with a student organization or delve into perfecting your leadership skills. I’ve participated in conferences that have taken me as far away as Philadelphia and San Antonio to as close as Estes Park and even the Mines campus.
 
Lean into what you’re passionate about
This next form of leaning is really a key to success in life. Figure out what you’re passionate about and find a way to integrate that into your life. And I’m not just talking about Calculus. I’m passionate about campus ministry, so I’m working for InterVarsity for a year here at Mines. Next year I plan to pursue a master’s degree in public policy so I can eventually fulfill my dream of running for government office.
 
Lean into hone your free food finding skills
And last but certainly not least, I would encourage you to lean into honing your free food finding skills (discounted food is also a good thing). This one shouldn’t be too difficult because college students seem to develop an innate sixth sense for finding food at the oddest times of day. Remember, all of this brain work makes you hungry! Six of us shared the best chicken nuggets I have ever tasted in my life late one Sunday night, which is proof that if you hear 50 chicken nuggets will only cost you $9.95, you should be first in line for that deal!
 
Lean into something new. Lean into studying with others. Lean into finding a work-life balance. Lean into new places! Lean into the collegiate experience. Lean into what you’re passionate about. Lean into honing those free food finding skills. Lean into Mines.
 
Welcome, and thank you for your attention. I wish you and your families the very best over the next several years.
 
Welcome to Mines.

 


 

 

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