New students at Daemen College received advice from one of the state's top education leaders. New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia was the keynote speaker Thursday at Daemen's Convocation 2016 ceremony.
Commissioner Elia, a western New York native, received her undergraduate degree at Daemen in 1970 when it was known as Rosary Hill.
"Fifty years ago I would have been sitting where you are because I started my work at Daemen, then Rosary Hill, in 1966. And so, I can just tell you that the opportunities that you have here at Daemen are just unbelievably exciting, things that you will probably never think that you could do,” Elia said.
Elia told students it is important for them to explore many opportunities in and out of their comfort zones during their college years.
“Take advantage of the opportunities that interest you. Opportunities come to you all the time—you can either take advantage of them, or they pass you by. You’ll never have that same opportunity again, so think carefully before you let it pass you by. British entrepreneur Richard Branson once said, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and then you’re not sure you can do it, say yes, and then learn what you need to do later,’” Elia remarked.
In taking risks, Elia noted even if students fail when exploring opportunities, they will improve and grow toward their future, and suggested students to 'jump with both feet'.
“Life must be continuously and constantly a learning process. Those new experiences and skills that you gain next time will help you in the next opportunity you have, and it makes employers want to look at you and hire you because you’re a person that will take risks—safe ones—but take risks, and that will go out there on a limb to learn something and become what you weren’t before but you could be,” Elia explained. “So let me tell you my three pieces of advice: Take advantage of opportunities that may never come around again. Get involved in activities that stretch your experiences. You will be surprised at how much you can really be successful and change the things that you need to help change. And keep an open mind because you never know where you ultimately will end up in your life.”
The college president tells WBFO News there has been an enrollment increase among the new class for the fall semester. Daemen welcomed more than 570-new students on campus today.
“Our enrollment for the new class is greater than we planned for so that’s always a good thing. We’re waiting now to make sure all the returning students come back but things look very, very good right now,” said Dr. Gary Olson, President, Daemen College.
WBFO asked Olson what attributed to the rise in the number of new students.
“Well, I think we’re recruiting all across the country and the world. We have students from I think 23 states and 46 nations. Also, as I say, we have high demand programs, especially in the health care, and when you have programs that students really seek out as their first choice it makes a difference,” Olson responded.