Pierce College professor speaks at Evergreen State College graduation
One day after many of his own students graduate from Pierce College, Professor Paul Gerhardt will take the podium to speak at his own alma mater’s commencement ceremony. When Evergreen State College asked him to serve as keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony at their Tacoma campus, Gerhardt was more than a little surprised.
“I was just shocked,” he admitted. “It’s such a huge honor to speak at the school I graduated from.”
Representatives from Evergreen said countless students from Pierce credit Gerhardt for changing their lives for the better. “I try to think about what I did to earn this level of respect,” Gerhardt said. “I do believe that I’m hard, and I hold students accountable. I want everyone to be successful, but I always try to reiterate how important it is to model behaviors in the classroom that employers look for. I expect my students to do their work and arrive on time. You have to schedule time for success.”
He plans to discuss the importance of valuing the importance of diversity in all aspects of life. “I may not agree with everybody I sit in meetings with, but I always invite people to have a conversation,” Gerhardt said. “My way is not the only way, and if I’m not open to learning a different point of view, I could miss out on a valuable way of doing things. It helps people lead a healthier, happier life.”
The overall message he hopes students take away from the ceremony is to simply create a life you can truly love. “I want people to walk away and feel empowered and inspired,” he said. “I want to give them a handful of tools to apply to every day life.”