This month I have had the privilege of speaking at several commencement ceremonies. Too often commencement speakers talk in big generalities, so it is hardly surprising that new graduates quickly forget what was spoken. My goal is to make my remarks a little more applicable to life.
There is one central message I shared with graduates: they are graduating at the perfect time. I know everyone has heard about recessions and brain drain and how too many Oklahoma graduates have to go out of state to find work. Our best and brightest too often leave.
Ladies and gentlemen, those days are ending. This is the perfect time to be a new graduate from an Oklahoma school! Oklahoma is on the cusp of a renaissance. We are no longer just a good place to be from – we are becoming a great place to stay and thrive and prosper.
I can remember traveling all over the country when I was a Secret Service agent. People would ask where I was from. When I said Oklahoma, I was amazed at how many people had very little knowledge about our state. And what they did know was often a false perception of a previous era.
Oklahoma is a tough state. The renaissance before us was birthed by overcoming various challenges. We had the dust bowl. We had oil busts. We had tornadoes and floods. The response from some was exodus – going elsewhere to pursue dreams that might not come true here at home.
But under the surface something was happening. From our challenges we have rebuilt cities and towns, we have launched new industries and we are sending more and more young people to college. Today, we are a part of a new Oklahoma – an Oklahoma that is rapidly becoming a state of excellence and a place to head for, not just a place to be from.
At the Capitol we are proposing and passing legislation that says Oklahoma is open for business. That’s crucial. Maximum economic liberty creates opportunity. And opportunity leads to real growth and the creation of wealth and prosperity – as does a serious effort to attract new jobs and investments that will keep our graduates here.
I can tell you that Governor Fallin and I are determined to sell Oklahoma nationwide. And one of the strongest sales points I have is the bright, energetic and eager graduates of Oklahoma’s universities. That is why I say that this is the perfect time to be an Oklahoma college graduate. Their time is right now and their place is right here in Oklahoma – a new Oklahoma.
As always, my office is open and ready to answer any questions. Also, feel free to visit our website at www.ok.gov/ltgovernor or call our office at 405.521.2161.