Former West Virginia University First Lady, Susan Hardesty, addressed the graduating class of the College of Creative Arts on Saturday (May 15), and urged graduates to “dream big.”
A lifelong Mountaineer – she grew up with blueprints of the Creative Arts Center spread across her childhood dining table and founded the Mountaineer Parents Club in 1995 – Hardesty spoke of her affection for WVU and its students before reminding graduates of four pieces of advice her husband, former WVU President David C. Hardesty, Jr., gave them at freshman orientation.
“Go to class. Lead a balanced life. Engage in the life of the campus. Dream big. I believe these same points can help you be successful in the next stage of life,” Hardesty said.
She urged the gathered graduates to think thoughtfully about what they wanted to achieve in life, to take time to define these goals and to work hard each day to attain them – being the first to arrive at work and the last to leave each day.
Hardesty emphasized that although a rich and rewarding profession is important, so too is balancing life away from work with time devoted to family, friends and community. She also spoke about making a daily commitment to physical health and the importance of keeping in touch with mentors and friends, especially those staying behind in the mountains of West Virginia.
Finally, she inspired the crowd with the story of James Valenti, a WVU alumnus who recently debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Alfredo in Verdi’s “La Traviata” after 10 years of hard work towards that very goal.
“Just think of that – a leading role at 32! I still get chills when I think about it. Here was our WVU graduate achieving the impossible dream. Hard work has not gone out of style. This is an impossible dream that came true and it can happen to you,” Hardesty said.
She stressed again that big dreams, hard work and a commitment to wellbeing were the keys to success.
“Dare to dream the impossible dream. You now have the skills to make those dreams come true.”
By Liz Dickinson
WVU News and Information
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