Alum Kevin Kopischke, now president of Alexandria Technical and Community College, addresses UMC graduates.

    The University of Minnesota Crookston held its commencement exercises last Saturday afternoon in the Lysaker Gymnasium, where approximately 200 students were in attendance to receive their bachelor degrees. There were several speakers associated with the University of Minnesota congratulating the students.

    This year's keynote speaker was Kevin Kopischke, an alumnus from the class of 1972, who is now the President of the Alexandria Technical and Community College. The message he delivered was one of truth for what students could expect once they graduate. "This we know: get ready, folks. Many will not be business-as-usual, even as you continue to move through your careers."

    Kopischke then went on to talk about a few things he learned that helped him shape his career, including learning how to balance things, and showing up to work. But the one he spent the most time stressing on was about being informed.

    "Be informed and stay informed," Kopischke exclaimed. "I don't believe there's a more disturbing problem today than trying to work with people, influence people and lead people who are not informed."

    He explained that it is seen all the time in politics and communities and can cause problems. "What I've seen often is that the uninformed become ignorant and belligerent. During those times of ignorance and belligerence, there is no communication, no collaboration, no compromise."

    The country, he said, can't continue to be run in that way. The solution? "We challenge you to find a fascination for information and surround yourselves with people who have circumstances and experiences that are different than yours and then make up your own mind and conclusions."

    Kopischke's last point was also important, saying that if you don't know how to do something, just start doing it. In other words, make your own move. "You can't wait around until someone else solves all the world's problems. You can't sit on the sidelines."

    His final thoughts for the graduates? "Take that new idea, that new vision, that opportunity and start to make it happen, even though there's no blueprint, no precedent. As you leave UMC, leave with confidence and be proud."