At UW Tacoma, I have been struck, time and again, by the stories of students' lives. They have found their way here in an endless variety of ways. Some have come directly from high school. More often, their lives have taken twists and turns after high school. Some have come here after military service. Others have raised a family first. Yet others have started down one path in a job or career, and have chosen to forge a different one.
The hunger to learn, motivation to give back, and resilience in the face of life’s many challenges are the common threads among the varied biographies.
Resilience is powerful. As a concept, it refers to the capacity that individuals, organizations, and communities have to recover and persist in the face of acute stress. Research shows that individuals who are resilient demonstrate optimism, balance, sustainability, determination, flexibility, diversity and connectedness. In other words, resilient individuals are those who can continue to see the best in a situation, consider alternative pathways, draw sustenance from strong relationships with others, and can act thoughtfully. It will not surprise you that education is related to resilience: the ability to analyze, consider multiple consequences, and to chart alternative courses of action all advance resilience.
Earning a baccalaureate degree places you in an elite group in the US and the world, and earning a master’s degree places you in an even more elite group. With that status comes the responsibility to use your education to make the world a better place than you found it.
Not only are individuals characterized by more or less resilience, so too are organizations and communities. Our ability as a campus to withstand some of the budget challenges of the past few years and to remain optimistic, mission-driven, connected to one another, and to try new ways of attaining our goals under new constraints, all demonstrate organizational resilience. We will strive continuously to increase our capacity for resilience. As you go on to join – and lead – organizations, your capacity to help those organizations through tough times, as well as good times, will be critical.
We are the community’s university: established by the dreams, vision, and action of leaders of the South Sound. Tacoma, in particular, is a resilient community, but it — like all communities — relies on every new generation to take up the mantle of leadership. That’s you! My colleagues and I are immensely proud of you, our graduates.
We are confident that our future – whatever it may bring – is in good hands.