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Dean Pantula with Benny the Beaver outide Reser

More than a number

By Sastry Pantula
Dean of the College of Science
Sastry Pantula with Benny the Beaver

Open letter to science graduates

You are more than a number, more than a grade and more than a piece of paper you get after several years at OSU. You are much more. You are educated, driven, adaptable and ready to make a difference in the world through your leadership in science.

A good education can give you a head start in an extremely competitive world. But what happens next is completely up to you.

We're extremely proud of our 2015 College of Science graduates. You are an impressive group whom we have been privileged to see shine at OSU. Your accomplishments on campus hold the promise of phenomenal things to come.

This is such a busy time. You have finished studying for exams, wrapped up your college days, packed up your apartment, maybe finished a job, said goodbye to those who have been with you on this journey—friends, mentors, classmates, advisors and professors. I hope you take time to quietly reflect on all you have accomplished since arriving on campus just a few short years ago.

I want to congratulate all of the parents so please share this with them. Parents, you may be surprised at how quickly the time passes. You have done a good job serving as your son or daughter’s mentor, supporter and cheerleader. Parents give their children valuable mentoring by showing them how to handle life and career challenges. By supporting them on their journey at OSU, you helped your student develop skills to reach professional and personal goals. You are a mentor to them simply by listening and helping them discover what to do when faced with a problem. Mentoring helps students navigate the world and families play an important part in education by mentoring.

Graduates, I have seen the wonderful research and meaningful experiences you have had during your time at OSU. You have traveled abroad, had internships, worked on science research that you never imagined possible, worked closely with faculty, formed lifelong friendships, found your true passion, had fun (maybe sometimes too much fun), and have a bright future ahead of you.

As part of the College of Science, many of you may have conducted research from global amphibian declines AND the disease ecology of African megafauna to structures of nanoscience AND applied and theoretical problems, such as the transport of contaminants in the earth’s subsurface. You may have surprised your professors and yourselves. I hope that you have realized the value of research and that you apply that to your future careers. We try to emphasize research because it helps students learn to think like scientists, to be critical thinkers, problem solvers. The problems we face in science are easy enough to articulate, but they are not at all easy to solve. That’s why we need you.

The physical, biological or mathematical discoveries and breakthroughs are waiting for you. I hope some graduates in our Class of 2015 will be the ones who make these new discoveries. You can do this!

Though some of you may have studied mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, statistics, zoology, microbiology or biochemistry and biophysics, we are all part of OneScience. The College of Science values excellence, harmony and diversity. Though we are OneScience, we are diverse. In the College, we believe there’s unity through diversity.

You all come from different backgrounds, different races, ages, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientation. Some of you came directly from high school, some transferred from other universities or community colleges. Some of you may have invisible/visible disabilities or be a veteran who served the country. The College is deeply committed to enhancing diversity in all forms and to building an inclusive community. We seek to inspire women, first-generation college students, minority students and other diverse populations to pursue careers in science.

I hope your science education has taught you to balance teamwork with individual work, helped you find your True North, and prepared you for success in graduate school or in a career. I hope it has taught you the joy of knowing. That is what drives us as scientists. It’s what gets us up in the morning and keeps us up late at night.

Some of you may follow a different path and not enter science directly. Your path may not be linear. And that is OK. Take some risks. Prepare for frustrations. Doors may be slammed in your face. But pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and press on. It’s the only way to achieve your goals in life.

In the words of Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

I hope you are better for your time spent in science and were guided by strong mentors and advisors. As you transition from students to alumni, I hope that that you keep in touch and share your successes with us. Your success is our success. We are looking forward to a continued relationship. Once an alum, always an alum.

I wish you all the best, our new graduates and the next generation of leaders in science, for reaching this impressive milestone. YOU are our future. We are depending on you to do great things to improve people’s lives, health and the world. A little bit of pressure can be a good thing! As part of Beaver Nation, we look to you to help build a healthy people, a healthy planet and a healthy economy.  So go out and transform the world through science. Be the next great generation of scientists.

Congratulations and remember, what happens next is completely up to you. Until we meet again!

Watch it! This video features 2015 OSU graduates giving advice to their freshmen selves.


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