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Fall 2009 Commencement Report Transcript

Runtime: 2:06

ANNOUNCER: Our world has big problems, and we need intelligent, educated people to solve them. That was the message shared by Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to students and their families at the Fall Commencement Ceremony at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. More than a thousand undergraduates and graduates participated in the ceremony, held Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mason said times might be difficult, but having a college degree can make all the difference.

MASON: Some of you are headed to graduate school, others to new jobs and still others to military service. And I expect that some of you are still looking for jobs in a very tough economic climate. But history shows that your education provides you with an overwhelming advantage.

ANNOUNCER: Mason said that history shows that hard times often spur individuals to invest in education, which pays tremendous dividends.

MASON: In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the first Sputnik satellite, the United States responded with a massive investment in science, technology and education. The return on that investment includes the personal computer with its graphical user interface, global positioning systems or GPS, the laser printer, the cell phone, and a lot of other electronic gadgets that we use every day that underpin our economy. Today, we need a new set of skilled workers to tackle the challenge of transforming our energy system.

ANNOUNCER: Mason went on to detail a global energy problem, where development and population growth are causing increased energy demands. Mason encouraged graduates in all disciplines to work toward a solution to this problem.

MASON: Whatever you choose to do, I suggest that you look for challenging problems to solve. Work that demands your best effort is a great deal more rewarding than something that is trivial or easy.

ANNOUNCER: Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Thom Mason. A slideshow of photos and the archived Web cast of the commencement ceremony can be found at our Web site, Charles Primm reporting.