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Tesseract School Graduation

Location: Unknown

Good evening, and thank you for inviting me to be here.

It's a great privilege for me to speak to the first Senior Class graduating from Tesseract.

This really is an honor for me, because I know what a proud moment this is for you graduates, for your parents, for your teachers -- and for the entire administration.

I suspect that for some of you, this day has come without too much difficulty.
Your classes were not that tough, the tests not that challenging.

For others of you, getting here today, was probably less of a breeze -- it was not so easy -- it was demanding -- and your success was uncertain.
Welcome to the world you're parents live in.
Welcome to the world you're entering.

Welcome to the world that never stops challenging you -- where there are no guarantees. There will be no guarantees on your journey through college -- and into a career.

I can tell you that, because I had no guarantees in my own long journey into public service.

But, I made that journey without fear, because my parents had established a firm foundation for me, one which was cemented in love for this country.

While I lost my father at an early age, my mother, Edna Drinkwine, lived to the age of 87 -- and she was my inspiration -- each and every day.
From her, the I learned to make hard choices.

My mother taught me the value of hard work and of taking action.
She taught me to honor our country.

She taught me that the only thing you're entitled to in life is a chance.
And, she taught me that you're measured by how you meet challenges.
She was right, of course.

Can you imagine waking up in the morning and having everyone --- from the newspapers, the bloggers, the pundits, lobbyists, legislators and office gossips --- all critiquing everything you do?

Everything you say? How you say it? Your clothes, your hair, your makeup?
Trust me, politics isn't all that different from high school!

From what I know of Tesseract, I believe my mother would have been proud of this school. Just as my mother did, this institution stresses the importance of the habits of both your heart and your mind; of thinking before you act.

As part of your education here at Tesseract you have been taught that many of our accomplishments in life are because we work in groups -- cooperating with one another to achieve common goals.

In my job, I must work with an elected Legislature, and a host of other statewide elected officials; Congressman, Senators and yes, even our President.

When we work together in a cooperative fashion we achieve great things, but, when we don't -- it can be pretty disappointing and look even worse.

But, I've learned the importance of standing up to the critics and always doing what I believed was right -- regardless of the political consequences -- either by signing bills into law, or by vetoing them if I felt they were flawed.

I'm sure many of you know about the iPhone application called Shazam -- it's used to identify a song -- and it has quick links to iTunes and YouTube -- and it allows you to share the song via e-Mail.

So, wouldn't it be great if there were an application that you could use to hold your phone up to a problem you're having -- to some difficult decision you're facing -- and the phone would tell you what was the right thing to do?
Well, there IS an application like that.

It's called your mind.
It's called your conscience.
It's called your faith.
It's called your family.

Those things guide each and every one of us in public service in our daily decision-making, and we don't need a fancy iPhone to help us make the right -- though many times difficult -- decision.

But, in addition to doing the right, thing, I want to add the importance of doing the right thing … with your best effort.

You've all done that at Tesseract, that's why you're here this evening. But, let me share with you a wonderful story about Henry Kissinger -- when he was Secretary of State.

A young man on his staff was asked to prepare a report about China.
The young man, wanting to impress his boss, worked very hard, and did a lot of research, and finally gave to Mr. Kissinger the long, detailed report that had been requested.

A few days after handing in the report, the young man was summoned to Kissinger's office where the secretary of state told him that the report needed to be improved.

The young aide said, "Yes sir," and took back the report, and went to work again. Again he submitted the report, and again, a few days later, Mr. Kissinger asked him to rework it.

When he was called into Kissinger's office for the fourth time, and asked to redo it again, the exhausted aide said in frustration, "But, Mr. Secretary, there is nothing more I can do to this report. It is the best I can do."

"Well then," said Henry Kissinger, "If this is your very best effort, I suppose now is the time that I should actually read it."

The Secretary of State had not read the earlier reports from the young man, because he did not want to waste his time on mediocre work.

He set a single standard of excellence for himself, and taught his young assistant the valuable lesson that the only job worth doing is a good job -- your very best, the first time.

A single standard of excellence and honesty in all you do, is not easy.

But you have had a good beginning here.

You should be able to see opportunity when there is difficulty.

You may not know everything, but you can be understanding.

You may not be rich, but you can be generous.

Your speech may not be eloquent, but it can be truthful and sincere.

Your influence may not be great, but it can be good.

So, let me add here one additional piece of advice:

Prepare for the future … with a promise for today …

promise that you will always honor those who love you …

Listen to the great teachers who guide you …

And never abandon the dreams that inspire you.

Thank you for allowing me to spend some time with you today.

It's been an honor for me to look at you and know our future is in such good hands, and guided by such wonderful minds.

May God bless you and your families, may God bless your paths into public service, and may always God bless and protect Arizona and the United States of America.

Thank you.

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