Tester speaks to MSU-N grads

Havre Daily News

by John Kelleher

Montana State University-Northern graduates received a typical Montana admonition on Saturday.

"Go get 'em," Sen. John Tester urged the 340 graduates at the conclusion of his speech.

Tester got a standing ovation before his speech, as Provost Joe Callahan, pointing to the senator's flattop haircut, said he brought a "level-headed approach" to the nation's capital.

Brushing aside the belief that this was a bad time to graduate from college because of the tough economic times, the senator said "believe me, this may be the best time to graduate.

"The bad news is that there are lots of challenges facing our country," he said. "The good news is that all of the challenges have opportunities."

Northern graduates are especially able to meet the challenges, he said. The nation faces critical problems in energy, health care, education and business, he said.

Northern has programs in all of those fields, including the program that focuses on green energy, which he said was "the best in the state of Montana." The graduates bring to the nation not only the academic skills they obtained at Northern, but also a sense of accomplishment.

"When you walk across that stage, you have shown that you have the capacity to start a job and finish it," he said. "You have learned the ability to reason, the ability to think and the ability to use your common sense."

Callahan had introduced award winners, students, 50-year alums, faculty leaders and special guests; Tester began his speech by asking for applause for another group — parents. He led prolonged applause for the parents, who filled the gymnasium bleachers.

He said parents were looking down with pride at graduates saying "I raised that kid." "From what I've seen today, you did pretty well," he said. Tester said his family has deep ties to Northern.

His mother received a twoyear degree from the campus in 1940 and a three-year degree in 1941.

“When I told my mother I was speaking here, she said 'That's a good school, so do a good job,'" Tester said.

"Tell your mother you did a great job," Callahan said, as the senator finished his speech.

All the traditions of graduation took place. Students and faculty marched in as "Pomp and Circumstance," by pianist Debbie Paulsen.

The Parker School in Rocky Boy played the drums and sang traditional chants and Choral Fusion sang the national anthem. One by one, Callahan called the students forth to get their degrees. Cheers and shouts came from the audience

The most emotional came at the end. Charles Nelson, the registrar the Montana State University in Bozeman, at the ceremonies to be given a Founders Award, stepped forward to confer the degree on one last graduate, Ryan Callahan. Ryan Callahan was graduating with honors from Montana State University at Bozeman, but was attending ceremonies in Havre so he could receive his degree from his father, Provost Joe Callahan. Ryan Callahan came forward and embraced his father as he accepted his degree.