OKLAHOMA CITY —
May is graduation season. As I have done every year as Lt. Governor, I have given multiple commencement speeches. Advice flows freely during this time and it usually runs the gamut. What to do, what not to do, how to do ‘x’, be sure not to do ‘y’…Too often commencement speakers speak in big generalities. So general, the message is frequently lost or forgotten.
My intent was to be clear and specific to this year’s graduating class: Do not leave Oklahoma!
This is the perfect time to be a new graduate from an Oklahoma school! This is a perfect time to be a graduate from high school or college! Oklahoma is on the cusp of a renaissance. We are no longer just a good place to be from. We are becoming a great place to stay and thrive and prosper.
Oklahoma is a tough state. The renaissance before us was birthed by overcoming various challenges. We are a new state born from old adversities.
For our first hundred years as a state we seemed to be afflicted with many of those challenges.
• We had the dust bowl.
• We had oil busts.
• We had tornadoes and floods.
The response from some became an exodus. Too many people going elsewhere to pursue their dreams because they believed those dreams would not come true here at home.
Sadly, some of them may have been right. Our state government and some of our other institutions seemed more interested in settling for mediocrity. We watched the Okies travel west in the thirties, and too many of our young people head south in the 70s and 80s.
But under the surface something was happening . . .
From our challenges:
• We have rebuilt cities and towns.
• We have launched new industries.
• We are sending more and more young people to college.