OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Commencement remarks: NASA astronaut Don Pettit (OSU '78)

06/12/2010

Note: Astronaut Don Pettit, a 1978 chemical engineering graduate of OSU and veteran of two voyages to the International Space Station, offered the following verse-form remarks as the keynote speaker for Saturday's commencement ceremony at OSU, the university's 141st graduation.

This commencement is not about what you have done;

it is about what you are going to do;

it is about the future.

The future for you is bright,

as it is for every new class

The future is filled with opportunity

given to us in part because we have frontiers in which to explore

Frontiers are places where our normal intuition does not apply,

the answers are not in the back of the book

frontiers are places that are rich in discovery

And as such they captivate your soul,

they tickle your imagination

and enrich your mind

Frontiers are all around us,

at the bottom of the ocean

in the stratosphere

under the stage of a microscope

into the human social order of how we live

or off into space

As long as there are new generations coming behind the old,

there will never be a final frontier

choose one that sings to your heart

and begin to explore

But I caution you,

frontiers are relentless in the application of universal rules

mistakes cost more than -10 points on a mid-term exam

Frontiers have the excitement of discovery,

making something new where before there was only vacuum

it does not get any better than that

In a frontier, you can once again see the world through the eye’s of a child

Someday, decades from now,

a change in your perspective will happen

you will find yourself returning back to your educational roots

And working on what you can do for the next generation of bright eyed students

Perhaps you may find yourself before a graduating class,

standing in their line of commencement

each anxiously to consume life with a big spoon

and to create what they may of the future

And perhaps you can let them know that there are new frontiers to explore

and how bright their future shines