He instantly knew he was speaking to a group of high achievers.
"I'm guessing most of your are planning to attend college, maybe right here at USD. Or maybe you'll be seeking some other form of post-secondary education. Or you may be planning to go into the military.
"But whatever your route, your challenge will be to discipline yourself to continue your scholarship," he said. "The world is so complicated today, and things change so rapidly. You can't just graduate from high school, or graduate from college, and say 'I have learned now what I've needed to learn.' "
The sophomores in the banquet audience who will eventually choose to continue their studies at a college or university will face, perhaps, the most daunting challenges, he said.
"This will be a time when you are completely independent," Daugaard said. "You can choose to study when you please, attend class when you please, or not attend class.
"You can stay up as late as you want, you can use drugs and alcohol, and some of the students when I went to college chose to use alcohol, and they used it to an extreme, and today, they are alcoholics," he said.
High achievement and scholarship will entail self-discipline, Daugaard said.
"If you have the self-discipline to achieve and continue your scholarship, and drive yourself to achievement, you'll position yourself for choices and opportunities that won't otherwise be available to you," he added.
Today's world requires scholarship and discipline, Daugaard said.
"You have the talent, or you wouldn't be here," he said, "so I encourage you to use it."
Daugaard also urged his young audience to look to the future with persistence and big dreams.
"You have the determination to achieve those dreams," he said. "South Dakota is a great state, and the United States is the greatest country in the world. We have opportunities here that are so much greater than those offered to young people in other parts of the world."
The challenge that young South Dakotans must accept is "to believe in one's self," Daugaard said, "and to work hard for your dreams."
He encouraged his young audience to not underestimate their abilities. "If you do," he said, "you may be creating the largest obstacle that will limit yourself."