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On Saturday, March 18th, 2017, Dean Frederick Antczak addressed over 1500 enthusiastic students at the 33rd Michigan Science Olympiad Region 12 tournament. Hosted at GVSU by the Regional Math and Science Center, the annual competition held excitement and opportunities to showcase knowledge for students in grades 6-12 in West Michigan. Antczak, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, challenged students and supporters in the crowd to consider what it means to be “Highly Satisfied” in a job.
I have a question for all the adults—only our scientists need not answer, but you might want to watch your parents.
What % of Americans do you think are ‘Highly Satisfied” with their jobs?
Let’s see hands:
But how many others? Let’s see the hands again.
All wrong! Only 13% of Americans are highly satisfied with their jobs.
So the question for you guys is, how do you make sure you’re in that 13%?
“What do you want to be?”— wrong question!
If you say you want to be a teacher or a doctor or an engineer, you’ve got to know, there are teachers, docs and engineers in the 87%.
They got it wrong because they focused on the WHAT before answering the WHY. You’ve got to know your purpose as a person before you know how to work on it.
Look at these scientists—look at your science teachers. If they told you WHY they were scientists, it wouldn’t have “is” verbs, it would have active verbs. Maybe “to engage with young people, to help them to learn how to ask and answer questions about chemistry” like Professor Matchett (whose purpose is also to grow the coolest moustache at Grand Valley) or “questions about biology” like Professor Vigna.
I’m sending you all home with an assignment. Using active verbs, no is verbs, no “WHAT”, formulate your “WHY”—and then on Monday ask your teachers for theirs (in fact, it might make for an interesting ride home today if you asked your parents what their WHY is).
Clarity on your WHY will give you discipline on your HOW, which is maybe the hardest question lying ahead of your 20s. But if you know your personal purpose, consistency with your WHAT will be amazingly easy.
And I want to introduce one more person who fulfilled her purpose. Karen Meyers, come up here. Since 1993 she has worked as a scientist in Grand Valley’s Regional Math and Science Center, and now after 24 years this is her last Science Olympiad before retiring. She never did it for applause, that’s just a WHAT, but I ask you all on behalf of all those Olympians to thank her.
And that’s WHY I’m here today. That, and to suggest the grown up virtues of focus, persistence, admitting you don’t know and following the facts where they lead you are already part of your WHY.
So let the medal ceremony begin!