Sen. Keough Urges U-Idaho Coeur d'Alene Grads to Expand Opportunities for Themselves and Others

Tuesday, May 10 2011

By Donna Emert

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – The University of Idaho Coeur d'Alene commencement, held May 9, showcased the leadership and quality of this year's graduates and award recipients.

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis presided over the ceremony. The 2011 graduates earned 84 baccalaureate degrees, one doctoral degree, three specialist degrees and 67 master’s degrees. About 10 percent of the Coeur d’Alene graduates earned those degrees summa cum laude, with highest honors.

Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem was awarded the President’s Medallion, honoring individuals who have made significant contributions to the cultural, economic, scientific and/or social advancement of Idaho and its people, and have provided exceptional service to the state or nation that has influenced the well-being of humankind.

College of Education Curriculum and Instruction professor, Cherie Major received the Warren Bakes University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene Advocate Award for her distinguished record of achievement in, and service to, her profession. Throughout her 38-year career in education, Major has established a legacy of educators who were her students.

In her commencement address, Idaho Sen. Shawn Keough congratulated the Idaho graduates, and urged them to continue to broaden opportunities for themselves and for others. Noting that politics often is referred to as “the art of the possible,” she challenged graduates to “expand what is possible.”

Using her life as a point of reference, Keough illustrated the importance to making good choices: following her parents’ divorce, Keough’s mother and family found themselves in poverty, living without running water or electricity.

“I had to make a choice,” said Keough. “I could become a statistic – homeless or worse, or make a better life. Because of those early choices, new opportunities opened up.”

Good choices continued to shape her life. In 1995, Keough was working to address community issues in Sandpoint when a friend pointed out she could have greater impact working at the state level. “I saw the possibilities that a seat on the senate would bring,” said Keough, who ran for the District 1 seat and won against a 14-year incumbent. She currently is serving her seventh term.

As 2011 graduates have expanded their understanding of themselves and their place in the world, new careers and other opportunities are now opening up for them, said Keough. She challenged them to continue to invest in themselves and others.

“Continue learning. Continue increasing your potential,” she said. “Now as you step forward to engage the world, you have to expand opportunity not only for yourself, but for your family, friends and communities.”
# # #

About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit