It’s hard to believe finals are nearly upon us, and I will be congratulating many of you as you cross the stage at commencement at the end of next week. Many of you will be transitioning out of Cape Girardeau, some for summer experiences and, for our graduates, the next step in your lives.
That’s the thing about being a university president – I get the joy of meeting you for the first time, some at your high schools, others at First STEP or the freshmen welcome convocation, and then I have the wonderful privilege of getting to know you and watching you grow. Over the course of your time here at Southeast and with each passing day, I am astounded as I witness all you are accomplishing.
In just the past few weeks, our Greek students raised more than $29,000 for community organizations, collected nearly 1,200 units of blood for the American Red Cross and donated 4,000 clothing items to the Safe House for Women. We had students whose video footage aired on ABC’s 20/20, who visited Boeing and Brown Smith Wallace in St. Louis, and who have won awards in state and national competitions too numerous to count. More than 70 of you presented projects at the annual Student Research Conference, and Southeast’s Debate Team is now a three-time national champion. In addition, Kara Hartnett, the Arrow editor, was named Journalist of the Year at the Missouri College Media Association Conference, and our cybersecurity team is now a six-time state champion. Students have recently exhibited their artwork in the Crisp Museum, the River Campus Art Gallery and at Catapult, and students have shined on the stage in breathtaking fashion at performances at the River Campus.
Your generosity, your contributions to serving others and your commitment to your academic success are a true source of pride for me!
I know many of you will be sharing your talents with organizations near and far over the summer. I am in awe of the opportunities you’ve landed. They are a true testament to your abilities. You are headed to Walt Disney World in Florida, BKD in St. Louis, Anders CPA, Edward Jones and Northwestern Mutual in Dallas, among others. Some of you will get the extraordinary opportunity to perform in “An American Hero” at the prestigious New York Music Festival; I look forward to seeing you there in July. And still others of you will be working with MGM Resorts, the Gateway Grizzlies and the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce. One of you will get the tremendous experience of participating in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in the University of Arkansas’ Microelectronics Photonics program, and another of you will be conducting McNair research in the area of applied and biomedical sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Finally, one of you will be interning in the primate house at the St. Louis Zoo! Just remember, there’s no monkeying around on the job! All jesting aside, I truly hope you take advantage of each of these wonderful opportunities to learn, grow and stretch your knowledge outside of the classroom as many of these experiences will chart your future.
Now let me turn my attention to our graduates. I know our faculty and staff, your family and friends join me in saying to you, the Class of 2018, “We can’t wait to see what you do!!” Remember, we take pride in our will to do here at Southeast, and we celebrate each other’s accomplishments. It’s nearly time to toss your cap! Whether you are on the path to becoming a nurse, a teacher, social worker, journalist, engineer, accountant, musician or artist, or whether you plan to continue your educational journey in medical school, law school or graduate school, I offer you my heartfelt congratulations and profound gratitude for sharing your college years with us here at Southeast. Now fly, Redhawks, and make us proud!
Have a wonderful summer!
President Carlos Vargas