SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE
Sen. Harry Reid today delivered the commencement address at the Sierra Nevada Job Corps graduation ceremony in Reno. Job Corps is a training program that helps young people between the ages of 16 and 24 get the technical and academic training they need to prepare for their careers. In his speech, Reid congratulated the graduates and encouraged them as they prepare to enter the job market and put their new skills to use. Reid’s prepared remarks are included below.
“When I was a young man–younger than some of you graduating today–I moved my young family all the way across the country and started law school.
“It was hard. It was expensive. And to tell you the truth, it wasn’t that much fun. I woke up before the sun, went to school from the early morning to the early afternoon and then went to work for the rest of the day. Somewhere in between all that I’d find time to study.
“I didn’t always know I was going to make it out of there with a diploma. One day I went to talk to the dean of students–Dean Potts. I told him that in addition to being a first-year law student, I was a father with a full-time job. I told him I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep it up.
“I’ll never forget what that dean told me. He didn’t give me an ounce of sympathy, or an inch of respect. Instead he said, “Mr. Reid, why don’t you just quit?”
“Well, that was all I needed to hear. I knew that day–that minute–that I was going to graduate. I knew I had to prove him wrong. I worked harder than I ever had, and I finished that degree.
“The lesson I learned that day is that sometimes the people who can inspire you the most are the ones who believe in you the least. I’d bet each of you can think of someone who has doubted you. You’ve probably known people who never thought you’d be sitting here one day.
“Someone you know may have seen you just a few years ago and thought: ‘He can only go so far.’ ‘She can only do so much.’ ‘You can only climb so high.’ But here you are. Take a moment, and take it in. This should put a smile on your face. It puts a smile on mine. You proved those doubters wrong.
“You’re here because you always knew better. And today, so does everyone who ever thought differently. Today the world knows you have no limits.
“But here’s the best part–really, the most exciting part: You’re just getting started. Some of you are about to start new jobs and great careers. Some of you will volunteer to serve our country in the Armed Forces, a commitment that never fails to impress and inspire me. And some of you have decided you want to keep learning, keep growing and keep going to school.
“Whatever you do after today, you’ll keep proving how much you can do and how well you can do it. And we’ll keep being proud of you.
“The job market is ever evolving. The skill set students need to get ahead is constantly changing. What graduates needed to know a generation ago, or a decade ago, or even a year ago might not always be what they will need tomorrow.
“Job Corps know this. It changes along with the world around us. And it makes sure that you’re not just ready for that world–it makes sure you’re ready to succeed in it.
“You now have the honor of calling yourselves alumni. Even better than that, you’re part of a special group of people who can call themselves Job Corps alumni. Graduates like you have gone on to succeed in all kinds of diverse careers: entrepreneurs, business people, actors, athletes, clergymen–and I’m just talking about George Foreman.
“You might not know yet exactly what it is you want to do next. But what got you to this point is exactly what’s going to get you to the next stop, the next success and each one after that. I know I speak for the staff and teachers and all the overjoyed relatives here today when I say we’re excited to watch you along that journey.
“And one day, when you’ve accomplished whatever it is you want to accomplish–whatever that may be–you’ll look back and know it started here. You’ll remember how Job Corps gave you a push, and a little lift, and stood behind you the whole way as you got closer and closer to this day.
“But you’ll also know it wasn’t just Job Corps that did it. It wasn’t just your teachers and instructors, even though you couldn’t have done any of this without their care, their leadership or their lessons. It wasn’t just your peers, even though they made this experience what it was, even though you’ll call many of these classmates friends for the rest of your life.
“When you look back on your path and retrace your steps, you’ll realize that what got you there was you. It was your drive, your effort and your smarts. It was your determination to grow and your refusal to give up.
“Be grateful for those around you and gracious to those who helped you. But always remember that your name is on this certificate because you earned it. Be proud of where you came from and be proud of this accomplishment–it’s one no one can ever take away from you.
“And when you’re down that road, however many years from now, turn around and look back. You’ll see someone who reminds you of yourself. Think of how you can help that person have a better day tomorrow than he or she had yesterday.
“That’s what this is all about. Give them a little push and a little lift. Stand behind them as they grow. Help them unlock their own promise, and you’ll know you’ve really succeeded.