By Travis Gulbrandson
Gov. Dennis Daugaard was in Vermillion Saturday offering three points of advice to area high-achieving 10th graders: Use self-discipline, have persistence and determination, and remember the people who love you.
Daugaard made these remarks at the annual Governor’s Leadership Luncheon, which recognizes high school sophomores from South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa for their academic achievement and major leadership roles in their respective communities. The event was held in the ballroom of the Muenster University Center at the University of South Dakota.
The governor encouraged the students to maintain their achievements through the use of self-discipline.
“You really have the ability — more than your peers — to achieve great things in life, whether in your state, in the nation or somewhere else in the world,” Daugaard said.
Upon graduation, some of the students might attend college or a technical school, some might join the military and others the workforce, he said.
“You also will be forced to discipline yourself to achieve some of the things your parents and other authority figures in your life have disciplined you to do,” he said. “You really will have to impose upon yourself a greater self-discipline than you’ve had to in the years leading up to the day you graduate. …
“It’s very easy to make one bad decision that you regret for a long time,” he said.
Daugaard also said he hopes the students have the persistence and determination to achieve their dreams.
Summing up this philosophy, he cited a quote from President Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
The ability of the students to utilize this particular advice will be affected by their own personal points of view, Daugaard said.
“Don’t limit yourself by your world prism. Don’t put on the wrong-colored glasses and then look at the world around you,” he said. “Dream big, and then have the persistence and determination to make your dreams come true, because you’ve got what it takes.”
The third point — to remember those who love you — was the most important, Daugaard said. To illustrate, the governor discussed his own childhood, when he grew up on a small farm near Dell Rapids. He talked about how his parents attended each of his school functions: Christmas programs, recitals, concerts.
“That’s nothing unusual — probably most of you have experienced all those things,” he said. “But my parents didn’t come to hear me recite or hear me play in the band or sing … because my parents couldn’t hear at all. They were deaf. They were born deaf. Can you imagine how boring that was for them to sit an hour, sometimes two hours, to watch someone’s mouth moving onstage or someone’s fingers moving on the instrument. And yet they never missed, because they loved me.
“We all want desperately to be loved and for someone to care about us and approve of us. The important moments of life are meaningful because we celebrate them with people who love us,” he said.
That same kind of love was evidenced Saturday by the number of parents who were in the audience, Daugaard said.
“As you look forward to your new life and adventures … don’t forget to stop and remember the people who love you and who set you on this course,” he said.