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Megan C. Schuster
photo by Tim Fitzgerald

Student, Campus Successes Focus of 2009 Commencement Remarks

Megan C. Schuster, an Omaha native, presented the following student commencement address Dec. 18, 2009, at the Civic Auditorium. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in business administration. During the spring semester of her junior year, Schuster studied abroad in Innsbruck, Austria. This month she begins working as a staff auditor for KPMG, LLP.

Regents, President Milliken, Provost Pratt, Chancellor Christensen, Distinguished Guests, Faculty, Families, Friends, and most importantly, my Fellow Graduates.

Thank you for coming to celebrate with us in recognizing the accomplishments we have achieved during our time at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

A lot has changed from the time we began our first college-level courses.

From a world perspective, we have responded to a natural disaster at home with Hurricane Katrina, elected a new president, and witnessed a recession.

At the university, we have a new chancellor; we have renovated the Health, Physical Education and Recreation facility and the College of Public Affairs and Community Service Building. We have expanded student housing, and have begun construction on a new College of Business building.

In our personal lives, we have joined fraternities, sororities, and other campus organizations, changed our majors multiple times, studied in foreign countries, started families, bought houses, and interviewed for jobs and graduate schools.

Graduates of the University of Nebraska at Omaha continue on to make names for themselves in their respective industries. They have obtained graduate degrees at Harvard, Stanford, the London School of Economics, Boston College, Syracuse University, and the University of Chicago, among others.

They have progressed through the ranks to become CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, heads of non-profit organizations, ambassadors to foreign countries, United States senators, fire and police chiefs, school superintendents, award-winning coaches, professional athletes, nationally-recognized artists, and Grammy and Emmy award nominees.

One outstanding example is Penny Sackett, who earned her undergraduate degree in 1978. She is now the first woman to hold the position of Chief Scientist of Australia.

And in the graduating class today, we are among individuals who will go on to be corporate executives, servants to the public, political influencers, and leaders in innovation.

How inspiring it is to know that the person sitting next to you, three rows in front of you or across the aisle from you will be a leader in his or her industry. What does it take for you to be that person?

Now is the time when the exciting part of our lives is just beginning. There's a world to see, people to meet, and more things yet to learn than you thought possible after studying for four or more years.

It wasn't until I returned from my study abroad that I truly understood that how I spend my free time, what I choose to learn, and the reasons for my decisions are the things that communicate my passions and make my life different from anyone else's.

Now is the time when we are free to do what is most fulfilling to us. That means finding our passions and pursuing them, doing the things that give our lives meaning and impact those around us.

The diploma each of us is awarded does not entitle us to success. It signifies the efforts we have made toward a goal we have now accomplished and the value we place on education and continued learning.

As we move on to the next stage in our lives, let us develop a frame of mind that emphasizes life-long learning and the unrelenting pursuit of our passions.

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