Thank you, Anita, and thank you for your devotion to Texas women and your interest in their shared success.
Every day your grace, beauty and inner strength remind me of why I chased you for eleven years until you accepted my proposal of marriage.
Getting you to marry me is still the smartest goal I ever set and the best one I ever accomplished.
It is such an honor to be here today in the company of so many Texas women, to celebrate their remarkable contribution to our state.
As far as I'm concerned, Texas just wouldn't be Texas without the contribution of the wonderful women who have lived boldly shattered stereotypes and made us all better in the process.
Think of all the trailblazers honored in this Hall of Fame leaders in business, government, education, the military, philanthropy and more. As you leaf through their biographies and read of their remarkable exploits, one begins to see a trend emerge showing the overriding importance of education when it comes to success in life.
When one considers the limited access to education that women experienced long ago it makes one wonder how much farther along we'd be had the quality of today's education been available all along.
That perspective also deepens our respect and admiration for women who pressed through barriers and got their hands on the education they deserved regardless of the social limitations of the time.
In that regard, so many of the women enshrined in this hall are pioneers in the truest sense in a state that was shaped by the pioneer mentality.
Today, we continue to knock down barriers to education, so that opportunity is equally available to all. Throughout my time of service to the state, I have placed the strongest emphasis on education working to improve the way we teach our children and shifting the focus onto measuring outcomes that truly make a difference.
That is why we introduced the Texas High School Project in 2003 building public private partnerships to improve graduation rates inspire young people to pursue higher education and apply innovation to teaching.
From that program, we launched our Texas-STEM academies where young people get the science, technology, education and math skills they need to compete in the global marketplace.
As I work to persuade legislators to double the size of that program I am also celebrating the advances we have made in preparing high schoolers to graduate ready for a job or college no matter what their economic or social status.
Just today, we received word from the Texas Education Agency on the results of the latest round of SAT tests and learned that Texas had a 13% increase in the number of African American students taking the SAT and a 14% increase in the number of Hispanic students taking the test.
At the same time, the number of young women taking the test went up nearly ten percent over the previous year meaning 54% of students taking the SAT in Texas are women.
It is clear to me that our efforts to open young people's eyes to the possibility of higher education are gaining some traction.
I celebrate this improvement and the difference it will make in the lives of our students today and their lives tomorrow in the workplace, at home and in their communities.
Who know, perhaps, someday, one of today's high school seniors will gain admission to this hall and continue your legacy of success.
To this year's inductees and all the women who will someday follow in your footsteps I say "well done" for your courage and "thank you" for the example you set providing living proof that greatness resides first in the heart and is realized through hard work and perseverance.
You make Texas proud.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.