Commencement speaker Melody Trimble told University of Arkansas - Fort Smith graduates Dec. 11 to still expect further change as they begin new adventures.
Trimble, chief executive officer for Sparks Health System and Summit Medical Center, said change wasn’t to be feared.
“Maybe it sounds tough, but the bumps on the road may help shake off a little dirt,” she told the crowd of approximately 2,800 in Stubblefield Center. Trimble, no stranger herself to change, will move to a new position in January as group president for Health Management Associates.
Trimble’s commencement address cited events from history and from her experiences as a nurse and hospital administrator to show the value of uncertainty.
“Yes, the future can look uncertain,” she said, “but I promise you that it isn’t as dark and uncertain as it may seem. The seven billion people we share the planet with all need to move forward, and we all need to move into this future.”
Trimble said students look for knowledge as they continue their education and that could be helpful.
“As we get on with it,” she said, “we learn to value wisdom, and wisdom is knowledge distilled over thfire of trials, the heat of opposition, annealed with the hammer of judgment, cooled and cleansed in the elixir of survival.”
Trimble said graduates would have from five to seven jobs between now and retirement when their parents and grandparents only had one or two, another reason for uncertainty.
“Abraham Lincoln said that one cannot be brave if they’re not scared, events must occur to allow one to turn to greatness,” she said, adding that someone asked Michelangelo how he could create the perfection of the David from a piece of marble.
“And he said the perfection already existed, he just removed the extra parts. So look at this as the chance, in getting bounced a little, to have the fluff cleared off of you and find the perfection inside.”
Trimble said she learned to ride a bike when she was six, falling off a few times, but she wanted to be like the other kids and ride a bike. Her mother told her that falling was part of it, so Trimble went on to learn to ride.
“As adults we forget that lesson. We try something, it doesn’t work out, and we walk away. Don’t do it that way. Try again.”
Trimble said she had found her success in first serving others and then helping coworkers improve the service.
“In fact, in healthcare, we don’t call it quality assurance anymore. We actually call it quality improvement. The opportunity for improvement shows up in every change that happens.”
She encouraged graduates to remember they would always need others -- mentors, students and colleagues -- citing the book of Ecclesiastes where it is often quoted for the verses beginning with “to everything there is a season.”
“But if you read on into the next chapter, you find the wisdom that it is always better to travel with another, because if one falls down, there’s someone to help them up,” she said, reminding graduates that they aren’t traveling alone.
Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor, reminded graduates of their responsibilities to get beyond sound bites they hear in the news, to form clear and succinct opinions and to become active citizens and participate in public debates that will shape the nation in the years to come.
“This country and this state -- and in fact I would say the whole world -- is dependent on you,” he said. “As graduates you represent the best of us. Best wishes for your health, happiness, prosperity and the ensuing leadership roles you will take on.”
Beran also introduced Dr. Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, who brought “heartfelt greetings and best wishes” from the System and encouraged the graduates to take time to reflect on the faculty who were instrumental in their education.
“Please take the time to let them know they made a difference,” said Bobbitt.
Bobbitt also shared advice, encouraging graduates to tackle the most difficult thing first and reminding them that their education had prepared them to think critically.
“Be receptive to the challenges that stretch you,” said Bobbitt, ending his short remarks with an old Irish blessing. “‘May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.’”
The commencement exercises included awarding of degrees and certificates for those completing graduation requirements during the second summer term and the fall semester. Fall candidates for graduation represented 298 bachelor’s degrees, 153 associate degrees and 54 technical certificates. Summer II graduates included 59 receiving bachelor’s degrees, 38 receiving associate degrees and 23 receiving technical certificates.