Dr. Valerie Daniels-Carter reminds students of the ‘Power of Your Dream’

Valerie Daniels-Carter
Valerie Daniels-Carter

Commencement Speaker Dr. Valerie Daniels-Carter addressed the 2023 UW-Green Bay graduating class at the afternoon ceremony at the Kress Events Center on Saturday, May 13, 2023. With her inspiring words, Dr. Valerie Daniels-Carter encouraged graduates to dream big and “never allow average to sit in the passenger seat.”

Watch it here at: 52:00 Spring 2023 Commencement afternoon ceremony

“To Dr. Burns, Chancellor Alexander and members of the faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and distinguished guests;

To the very proud family members and friends of the graduates; and certainly to this notable celebrated and deserving graduating class of 2023;

I salute you.

What an honor it is for me to have been asked to be with you on this grand occasion: You have reached a landmark. In fact it is more than a landmark, it is a milestone. We are all so proud of you, but you should be proud of yourselves.

I am here for one reason. I have simply come to affirm the belief of your university, and what is that belief? Just as the University, just as your professors, just as your family and friends believed in you, “I too believe in You”.

For the last several years you have been challenged by professors and faculty members because they saw in you what others could not see. They understood the power of the phrase, “I Like Your Odds, because Together We are Better”.

As I began to review some of the alumni who have matriculated through this fine institution of learning, I must admit that UW-Green Bay graduates are indeed a force to be reckoned with. This university believes in excellence and producing excellence. They have instilled in you, how to fearlessly face challenges, solve complex and complicated problems and chart a future that has endless possibilities.

You are forward thinking individuals who embrace diversity of thought, ethnicity, gender, and culture. You ‘Have the Power of Your Dream’ while forging forward to accomplish your goals. One can clearly see why UW-Green Bay for the last six consecutive years is the fastest-growing UW school.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, ‘Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.’ As you develop your dream, you are on your way to planting seeds of success. Today is indeed a day of celebration.

Four, or in some cases maybe five or six years ago, many of you entered the foot hills of this campus to experience a life changing encounter.

By what authority did you come? You came by the authority grafted in you by God to achieve and seek out destiny. You came looking to create a better tomorrow and a brighter future and…the fact that you are being crowned today, is a testament of your stick-to-itiveness. Many of you have defied odds and the dire statistics that said you would not make it. You have overcome countless obstacles that would have defeated the ‘average Joe.’ You had a dream and at some point, you realized the Power of your Dream.

I am overjoyed and humbled to stand here before you to share with you a few nuggets of wisdom.

First, I would challenge you not to let this day go by without saying ‘thank you.’ Thank You to your creator who allow this day to become a reality; secondarily you owe a ‘thank you’ to your parents, grandparents and guardians who in some cases made unbelievable sacrifices in order to pay your tuition and to provide you with some ‘extras’ so that you could have a meaningful college experience.

Because of their sacrifice, prayers and unyielding faith, you are here today. You are here because your choice to step ahead of the crowd and not give room to average. Being average was no-where near your expectations.

And yes, you owe a debt of gratitude to the faculty and staff that challenged and pushed you to achieve and focus, despite your insecurities and sometimes lack of confidence. They supported you because they knew that one day you would get it.

And guess what? You got it. At this moment you have reached your current goal. You are experiencing the Power of Your Dream.

Now it is your turn to change the world Because you are a 2023 graduate of The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

From the moment of conception an individual begins the gateway to development and growth; and from that genesis, inlays a world of opportunity. I believe everyone is born with passion, desire and influence. Passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. Passion differs from desire because desire is a wishful thought. Influence is the power to change or affect someone or something: the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen.

As we mature in life and our desire to achieve success is nurtured by life’s experiences, we must be careful to balance desire with reality and determine who has the sphere of true influence. You may have a desire to be a professional athlete; but in reality, unless you are extremely talented and afforded the opportunity to make the right connections, it may be a dream that never becomes a reality. Just because a desire does not become a reality should not prevent you from dreaming. Oftentimes, unfulfilled dreams lead us to unparalleled success. I would venture to state that most successful individuals have defined and redefined their goals several times. Never allow anyone or anything to ‘Kill Your Dream;’ the key is in knowing when and understanding how to awake to reality and keep your passion.

I have often wondered what stifles intellectual growth within people. Many individuals believe that in order to be perceived as intelligent or have intellectual astuteness, all a person has to do is be knowledgeable. In my opinion, perception is only a quarter of the measurement; nothing beats knowledge, understanding and experience coupled with relationships.

This is what you have received here at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

In order to allow your dreams to become a reality, you must have an insight of who you are and what your capabilities and capacity is. I have the knowledge and ability to manage a 10,000 restaurant chains, but today, I don’t have the financial capacity to fund such a transaction. But my need for additional capital to fund such a platform, will not prevent me from continuing to dream and exercise passion.

Reality requires your being completely honest with yourself as well as understanding what obstacles may exists. You must also be willing to listen to others you trust who are knowledgeable and experienced and are not afraid to be transparent with you.

Allow them to challenge you as you ascend to new horizons. Don’t feel threatened if they have reservations relative to your decisions, they only want the best for you because they understand that ‘Greatness Is By Design’. To be great, you cannot allow ‘Average’ to be your best friend. Average is an enemy to greatness. Average is a defeater to Greatness. Average performers stifle creativity and destiny. That’s because they only seek ‘just enough.’

  • In 1965, when the UW- Green Bay was born, it was because ‘greatness was calling.’
  • The expansion into a 16-County University was because ‘greatness was calling.’
  • The enrollment of almost 10,000 super brains is because ‘greatness was calling.’
  • Providing 51 undergraduate majors and 47 undergraduate minors along with 14 graduate programs, including one doctoral degree is because ‘Greatness was calling.’
  • Today, Greatness is still calling for you, The Graduates of 2023 to rise and ascend to new horizons.

You have been prepared to meet the challenges of not just for our community, but our world. I’m looking at some of you today, who, when history is written will be chronicled and celebrated in the pages of historical manuscripts.

There are guiding principles –as simple as they are powerful –which will create the peace of mind that comes only from true self confidence.

Excellence and greatness can only be achieved by maximizing our potential through challenge. A challenge to be great, a challenge to excel……… and a challenge to surpass all the rest.

So when individuals ask you what does the next chapter in your life looks like …tell them you are going where success is going, not where it’s been. Tell them you are not looking for the crowd, you are a creating cultures and communities for greatness to reside in. Remember the ‘The Power of Your Dream.’ When you dream, it increases your capacity to see. Don’t worry that others may not understand your dream or your vision; they cannot see what you can see, nor can they hear what you can hear, because they are not going where you are going. Life and death lies in the power of your own tongue. When you are confident that God has given you insight and purpose, then move in His surety.

Just remember, – You walk in excellence; You are a success; You are a winner; ‘You Have The Power To Win,’ …. And because of ‘The Power of Your Dream’. Your Dream is Now your Reality.”

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