A Message to Graduates: Keep Climbing

Posted on May 30, 2023

Dr J Oswego Resize

Dr. Juhanna Rogers was recently honored as one of SUNY Oswego’s 2023 commencement speakers. Speaking to a crowd of 600 graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dr. Rogers encouraged graduates to keep climbing to meet challenges head on, and push for more equitable change. Special thanks to SUNY Oswego for extending the invitation to Dr Rogers to address this year’s graduates and tomorrow's leaders.

You can read a portion of Dr. Rogers' address below:

“You're walking into a world that is very volatile as we navigate matters like race, women’s rights, citizenship, climate, political leadership, poverty, and education in ways we haven’t seen before, and it’s happening again and again. This is where the challenge is, the repeat of lessons we think we should have learned by now. This is where keeping it real becomes the key ingredient to getting all of us to a more loving world. As I thought about what lessons I would leave with you, I must tell you a truth, you have more mountains to climb.”

“And as you climb people you thought would be there with you will fall behind. They will abandon the mission, and that may make you feel a kind of way, but everyone has their own path. This will be hard for you but keep climbing your mountains.”

“There will be moments when your strength and knowledge and core values are tested. You will have to choose between what you believe is right and what others believe to be true. And most of the time, facts are not included in the equation. And you will feel torn and stuck and want to rush back to the comforts you found in navigating Oswego the last four years. However, I need you to lean in and to wrestle with the tough decisions. Life doesn’t seem to care one bit about our comfort zones. But I’ve learned it is in the moments when you feel most challenged and uncertain that we begin to emerge into a version of ourselves that is needed at that moment, in that season.”

“Graduates, embrace the fear that will come with failure and meeting the challenges of life head-on. The experience will test your resolve. It will require you to stand up for a cause, challenge someone in authority, or commit to tradeoffs that stretch us at capacity for someone else to have a chance. We need you, our future leaders, to be willing to ask the tough questions, push for change, put more equitable strategies into place to move us forward. We need you to keep climbing while never letting go of your dreams. Because dreams do come true when you keep climbing.”

Photo Credit: SUNY Oswego


Racial equity and social impact initiatives, DEI training courses and consultation services from CenterState CEO are available. Contact Dr. Juhanna Rogers at jrogers@centerstateceo.com to learn more.

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