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Keynote Address, August 3, 2007: Tracy Snow

Hello.  I am Tracy Snow.  I am the daughter of Marie and the late Ted Monroe, and the granddaughter of Jennie and the late Jack Irwin and the late Bill and late Emily Monroe, all of Nenana.  I am the wife of Paul Snow, from McGrath and the mother of Jack and Mattea. 

It is such an honor to be the keynote speaker for the Doyon Foundation Scholarship Award Ceremony.  I would first like to congratulate all students.  It wasn’t long ago that I was where you are.  I received my bachelors in Public Relations from the University of Oregon in 1997, and my masters in Leadership Psychology from the university of Santa Monica in 2005, so I understand and appreciate the commitment and the sacrifices each of you are making to pursue your goal of furthering your education.  Congratulations on the investment you are making in yourself and your future.  

When I was asked to be the keynote speaker for this celebration, I wondered what I could offer you as students.  Although I know that each of you will have a unique educational experience, I would like to offer some words that may assist you along the way.   There are three things that I wish I would have understood better when I was in school.  These three things are: setting intention; creating a support system; and enjoying the ride! 

In talking about the power of intention I would like to start with a medieval tale…

A traveler came to a worksite and saw two men carrying stones.  One man was working listlessly, with a sullen expression on his face, while the other man was cheerfully singing as he busily carried stone after stone. “What are you doing?” asked the traveler of the sullen worker.  “Laying stone” was his reply.  “What are you doing?” the industrious worker was asked.  “Building a cathedral” was his reply.

This is intention at work.  In terms of your educational endeavors, why not intend to succeed with grace and ease?  So often we are told that school is hard…that we have to work really hard and usually not enjoy ourselves to succeed in school. Well, if that is your intention, than that is what you will most likely get.  I don’t know about you, but an intention of grace and ease sounds like it will bring a much more fulfilling experience.

Now just because we set an intention of grace and ease does not mean that we don’t want to leave our comfort zone now and then.  Do you know in the heating and air conditioning trade, the point on the thermostat where neither heating nor cooling must operate, around 72 degrees, is called the “comfort zone”.  It is also known as the “dead zone”.  I don’t know about you, but the “dead zone” does not sound like a place I want to hang out. 

This leads us to the next area, which is creating a strong support system.  This is vital when we are spending time outside of the “dead” zone.  If you are having challenges or experiencing something new and want advice or support, where do you go?  For most of us, when we are faced with challenges, we seek support from our friends and family, who often have never experienced what we are challenged with.  Why not set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with individuals who have already experienced the challenges you are or may be faced with?  If your goal is to further your education, why not surround yourself with people who have already done that?  If you want to be wealthy, why not surround yourself with wealthy people who already know secrets for creating wealth?  If your heart’s desire is to be a happy mother of ten children, wouldn’t it make sense to seek out advice from other happy mothers?

As students, since one of your goals right now is furthering your education, I suggest that you take advantage of support offered by the Doyon Foundation Alumni Association and other similar organizations.  One of the primary goals of the Doyon Foundation Alumni Association is to support students like you.  By getting in touch with the alumni association, you can be paired with alumni, who understand your challenges and can support you in your educational goals.  This could be a great start to creating your own support system and setting yourself up for success.

So, once you have set your intention to succeed with grace and ease, and have established your support system to ensure your success, next it’s time to focus your attention on enjoying the ride. 

Recently I saw a wall-hanging that stated: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, a mocha in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO HOO what a ride!’  Imagine if this was your educational experience.  Imagine yourself skidding into graduation, chocolate in one hand, diploma in the other, screaming “WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!”

So often with our educational endeavors, we are so focused on the end result of receiving our degree that we neglect to fully embrace and enjoy the process.  I recently read an anonyms writing that said…

First I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to marry and have children.
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enoughfor school so I could return to work.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now, I am dying…and suddenly I realize I forgot tolive.

Don’t let this be you.  Remember to enjoy the process…even if the process entails experiences like failing math, disagreeing with your professor’s teaching styles, or studying all night and still having to make it to work in the morning…do whatever you have to do to enjoy and embrace the process.

I would like to close by: once again congratulating you on the decision and the investment you’ve made in furthering your education; encouraging you to set your positive intentions, surround yourself with a strong support system and enjoy the ride; and acknowledging you in liberating yourselves and therefore liberating those that will come behind you. 

I would like to leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?  Actually who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.  There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Congratulations and have fun.  Thank you.