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This past weekend I had the honor of giving my first ever commencement speech to the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas at Brownsville. What a great event!
This time of year is one of celebrations for many families across America, including many of the children of our 2 million strong Federal workforce and some Federal employees who I know are working and going to school at the same time. Congratulations to you all.
While in Texas, I also had the chance to meet with students, faculty and community leaders in Brownsville and at the University of Texas at Pan American.
I told them why I’ve dedicated so much of my time in the past few months talking to students and educators like them. It’s simple: there is almost no more important people to reach than those who will become the our workforce of the future.
I wanted them to know about the many opportunities out there for them, whether they want to work in Texas, or California, or North Carolina. I wanted them to know that there are opportunities available now – Pathways internships and entry-level positions at the Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and the Army – all in Texas. I wanted them to consider public service.
Delivering a commencement speech can be intimidating. But this wonderful crowd of nearly 700 graduates and thousands of their families and friends was welcoming and inspiring. More than 90 percent of the UT Brownsville student body is Hispanic. And 70 percent of Saturday’s graduates were the first in their family to go to college. So was I.
Families and friends revel in the accomplishment of a college degree. But it can also come with some anxiety. What now? Where do I go from here? It can be a scary prospect. But also an exciting one.
I urged the graduates to take their time and when they are to ready think about the next step in their lives. I told them to refuse to take no for an answer, that if you never let go of what ignites your passions, you will find a way to do what you love.
I gave one final piece of advice to the UT Brownsville Class of 2014. It’s advice I gave my own workforce in my first week at OPM.
Don’t just think about what’s possible. Strive for the impossible.
You never know what you will accomplish.
The College Tour continues. Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting with students at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
It was my first visit to Charlottesville. What a beautiful campus!
I brought some members of my Office of Personnel Management team with me to talk to the students about what it’s like to work for the Federal government and what the opportunities are for Federal service. They had a good discussion and the students had lots of questions.
I shared some of my earliest experiences in public service and urged the students give us a try. It’s a message I want to take to young people across the country. We’re looking for fresh talent. We’re looking for people who want to use their skills to help their fellow Americans. We’re looking for our next generation of public service leaders.
They asked important questions about how to make a resume stand out from the pack and about the process for applying for a Federal job.
I talked about the incredible variety of jobs in the Federal government that are available all across this great country. I pointed them to USAJOBS.gov and we showed a short video that chronicles the breadth of careers available.
I plan to continue my college tour to spread the word about the opportunities in Federal service. I urge all of us in the Federal family to do the same.
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