Weekly Column: South Dakota Students Taking the Next Steps

Every spring, a new group of students takes a big step into the next phase of life upon graduation. Whether students are moving on from high school, college or a technical institute, each graduate has an opportunity to use his or her talents, education and determination to shape their future and begin a new journey in life. I congratulate all 2017 graduates as they step out into the world to make a mark of their own.


We are fortunate in South Dakota to have good, quality grammar and high schools and more than a dozen universities and technical colleges, allowing our young people to receive a top-notch education right here at home. We are grateful for the teachers and professors across the state who dedicate their lives to educating our youth. Their commitment to education and teaching plants the seeds for a brighter, stronger South Dakota in the future.


As they step out into the world, I hope this year’s graduates remember the values and lessons instilled in them by their teachers, families, communities and neighbors.  When our four kids graduated high school and college, Jean and I gave them as much guidance and advice as we could, but at the end of the day, it was their responsibility to choose what they wanted to do in life and to make it happen. We are tremendously proud of the people they have become, and we are glad they have all chosen to stay right here in South Dakota to put their talents to use and raise families of their own. One of our greatest joys in life is watching them raise our grandchildren, the next generation of South Dakota students.


The United States truly is the land of opportunity, and receiving an education is the first step that allows us to achieve our dreams. Graduation opens up a brand new world to discover, and I encourage graduates to explore each opportunity that comes their way.


Regardless of our graduates’ next plans, I hope they will move into their next chapter with a problem-solving, kind and generous attitude about whatever happens in life. A motto that I come back to time and again, especially in my current job as a senator, is, “leave this world better off than when you entered it.” I work to do that as I represent South Dakota in the Senate and I hope that South Dakota’s young people will follow a path in life that gives them the opportunity to make this a better world for themselves and for all future generations of Americans.  They have been given the tools they need to succeed; the future is now theirs to shape.