Ebersdorfer encourages USD grads at Aug. 3 commencement University of South Dakota Professor Emeritus Jan Ebersdorfer encouraged the over 200 candidates for graduation to go in the direction of their vision, accept the challenges life faces and keep traditions alive during the 2000 summer commencement in the Old Main quadrangular Aug. 3.
Keynote speaker Ebersdorfer said she chose the topic of her speech, titled "Vision-Challenge-Tradition," because the terms represent phases in the preparation of students for a successful future.
"Graduates, I encourage you to be grateful to The University of South Dakota and to the state of South Dakota for providing the opportunity to reach your goal ? you brought a vision with you when you enrolled in your first classes at USD. You probably had a dream about how this evening would determine your future. While dreaming no small dreams and making no small plans, your goal has been achieved."
USD President James W. Abbott and South Dakota Board of Regents James O. Hansen of Pierre conferred degrees to the USD candidates. During the ceremony, Jay M. Newberger, director of court services for the South Dakota Unified Judicial System in Pierre, received an honorary doctor of public service degree from President Abbott. James Clement, Omaha, NE, presented an alumni welcome.
Ebersdorfer, who now resides in Mitchell, taught at the USD Educational Administration department from 1975 until her retirement in 1996. Ebersdorfer started teaching in 1953 in rural schools across South Dakota and was the first woman to sit on a South Dakota Governor's Cabinet when she served as the deputy and acting Secretary of Education and Cultural Affairs in 1973.
"I'm remembering a vision I had telling my mother I hoped to be at USD someday. My vision became reality when I began a 24-year stint at the USD School of Education in 1972," Ebersdorfer said. "Being in the 'student business' was both challenging and rewarding. Undergraduate students provided an atmosphere of vitality and graduate students brought fresh, innovative ideas to the classroom."
Ebersdorfer also said she believes it is the challenges in life that make people stronger academically and make them stronger leaders and human beings as well. She cited examples of renowned composer Ludwig van Beethoven, physicist Albert Einstein and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as individuals who overcame failures to the successes we still know today.
"It has been written that challenge is the nurse of greatness. Challenge demands diligence and preparation; however, it inspires excellence. To be successful, the first thing you need to do is fall in love with your work, be sensitive to the needs of others and be prepared to do better than being good."
A graduate of Parkston High School, Ebersdorfer also encouraged community service and to keep excelling in today's "dot-com world."
"Technology has made it decidedly easier for you to accomplish this goal. Remember always that education is the key to uplifting a society. Technology has also given us more time to scrutinize and speculation about new ideas. Unfortunately, life today is becoming more stressful and pressure oriented. However, I know as graduates of USD, you are not only prepared for a changing lifestyle, but are also very resilient."
Ebersdorfer told graduates to keep active at USD even when they are gone and stay connected to the roots they have established.
"The University of South Dakota has a long tradition of being an outstanding institution of higher learning on the prairie. Take pride in being a USD graduate, support the USD Foundation, join and become an active member of the USD Alumni Association. Share the successful experience you had on campus with potential USD students. Spread the good news about the caring environment and outstanding faculty you were privileged to have. This commencement may mean an end-to some friendships, lifestyles, pleasures and yes, pressures. I urge you to keep connected to the traditions of the red and white of the 'U.' Remember as a graduate, where you go, the 'U' goes."