Dear CALS: Convocation speaker thanks College

SLIDESHOW HERE [graduating_senior_thanks_college.mp4]

Cliff Dolbeare delivered this speech to his fellow graduates and guests at the College convocation May 9. He grew up on a farm near Pleasant Hill, Ill. and excelled at Iowa State. His grades put him in the highest 2 percent of his class. As a member of the Army ROTC, he ranked 14th out of about 4,000 cadets on the national order of merit list. Dolbeare will be serving on active duty in the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant Military Intelligence officer.

During the last few weeks of class and Dead week, I was racking my brain trying to figure out just what my fellow classmates would want to hear me talk about. … This of course led me to think of how we show our appreciation and so what popped into my mind? Thank you letters. Most of us graduating today have written numerous thank you cards and letters before or will be soon as we enter into this “real world” that we have heard so much about. It was this thought that made me decide to write a thank you letter to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on behalf of my fellow classmates. Here goes:

Dear CALS,

I hope you don’t mind me calling you CALS, I just feel we have gotten to know one another pretty well over these past few years. In fact I have known you long enough to remember when you used to go by a different name.

What I like about you, CALS

So how has this past semester been for you? Pretty busy, huh? Me, too. The past couple semesters, in fact, have been a little more difficult than I would have liked, too. You know there were times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it either. Like in Dr. Hartzler’s Agronomy 317 class or Dr. Edward’s Econ 330; who knew that weeds and numbers could be so difficult to work with? But you know what we got through it, didn’t we. That’s what I like about you CALS, you and your faculty and staff always helped pull us students through. Not only do you help pull us through but you offer us some pretty amazing ways to expound our knowledge base, too.

New ideas, deeper understanding

On the south side of the Memorial Union there is an elongated cyclone piece of bronze artwork titled, Whirlwind. At the base of Whirlwind is an inscription from the artists, Andrea Myklebust and Stanton Sears. It reads “Going to college should pick a person up and set him or her down in a new place with new ideas and a deeper understanding of the world.” CALS, I have no doubt that you have done just that.

An education only CALS could provide

I remember an educational trip I went on with a bunch of other students to Morocco a few years ago. This trip was pretty amazing for a number of reasons. Seeing the differences and similarities in the grain production of Morocco versus the United States was one reason. Learning about the wide variety of products raised in Morocco was another one. But what I will remember most of all, CALS, was not from one of our tours. It happened when our bus stopped for a break at a roadside café in rural Morocco after having just visited a dairy farm. The hour was late, and all of us students were tired, and most of us had to go to the bathroom. But the only bathrooms that existed at this café and in this part of the country were Turkish bathrooms. In case you didn’t know it CALS, a Turkish bathroom is literally no more than a permanent hole in the ground. Regardless of whether or not the students on that trip employed that bathroom, they all learned from it. We learned about the vast diversity that exists between Midwestern America and the rest of the world. That was an educational opportunity that only you could have provided CALS.

My adviser knows me by name

Ever since I first stepped foot on this campus, all of the individuals within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have not just tried to provide educational opportunities but have been truly helpful along the way. For the majority of my time here at Iowa State, I have been able to talk to my adviser, Dr. Retallick, on a weekly, if not daily basis. What’s more, he knows me by name. While this seems like a trivial feat to most of us, I know the same is not true for other colleges here. I learned this simply from listening to my friends outside of CALS talk about all of their frustrations with having to “reintroduce” themselves each time they visit their own advisors. Your advisers, CALS, care. The same can be said for many of your faculty and staff, CALS. They all care. Whether it’s the fact that Mike Gaul stops me to ask how my internship/job hunt is going or Dr. Esters walks down the hall to find out how my sister is doing since graduating from here; CALS, you are like our extended family. And of course one of my favorite aspects of family is…their willingness to share food with all of their relatives (or in your case students).

Great food

CALS you do provide your “poor college students” with some great food. The Freshmen /Transfer BBQ, the Welcome Back BBQ, numerous club BBQs, Block and Bridle’s Cake Auction, Collegiate FFA’s National FFA week breakfast, and the Dairy Science Club’s homemade ice cream are all just a few of my favorite examples of how you keep all of your students fed. That is something that we will always appreciate.

Going the extra mile

But what we will appreciate even more CALS, is all of the extra time and energy that all of your agricultural educators have been willing to give to help out us, their students. My classmates and I can attest to the willingness of numerous professors, instructors, and advisors to go that extra mile which has definitely helped us reach this day. This has been an invaluable part of achieving our educational goals here at Iowa State.

Investing in ourselves

You know CALS, I have read that if my classmates and I had decided to invest $1,000 in John Deere four years ago, today that John Deere stock would be worth approximately $1,300. Along the way it would have risen to as high as $3,032 and dropped to as low as $960. But we are far wealthier today for instead deciding to invest in ourselves here at Iowa State. You want to know why CALS, because now we have a college education and a degree from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. And that in itself will prove to unlock numerous opportunities for each and every one of us. And we could not be more grateful.

Preparing us to succeed

And so, CALS, on behalf of my fellow graduates I would like to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for helping us through all of the long nights and early mornings. Thank you for giving us an education that we COULD NOT and WOULD NOT want to have received anywhere else. Thank you for providing us “with new ideas and a deeper understanding of the world.” And most of all, thank you for not just preparing us to enter the next stage in our lives but to succeed in it.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Graduating Class of 2009

P.S. Please give our thanks to your wonderful administration, faculty, and staff and we’ll be sure to thank our friends and family.