Graduates urged to follow dreams

Sunday, December 16, 2001

Sheryl Crow, singer, songwriter and former teacher, became Dr. Crow during fall commencement exercises held at the Show Me Center on Southeast Missouri State University campus Saturday afternoon, then urged graduating students to go out and find their dreams.

"I know your sacrifices," Crow told the crowd of more than 500 graduates. "And I have no words of wisdom. But I'm reminded of what Yogi Berra used to say when he found a fork in the road. 'Take it!'"

She urged the graduates not to be afraid to go out on a limb because "that's where the fruit is."

Crow went out on a limb herself when she quit teaching and headed for Los Angeles to seek her dream in the music world.

"I am a story of dreams," she said.

As a youngster in Kennett, Crow would go to Blakemore Drug Store and wait for the latest edition of Rolling Stone, to see what others were doing in music.

Crow composed her first song at age 13, majored in music at the University of Missouri-Columbia and taught music to autistic children at a St. Louis elementary school. In 1986, she headed west to be a musician.

Today, Crow has eight Grammy Awards.

"Music helped me find myself," she said. "Anything is possible."

Saturday, Crow became the fourth person to receive an honorary doctorate from Southeast Missouri State University.

Degrees were conferred on 514 fall graduates during Saturday's commencement.

Forty-eight August graduates, who had their choice of receiving their degrees in December or May, also were on hand to receive degrees.

Leading the class of undergraduates were two students -- Amanda Gremaud of Perryville, Mo., and Matthew Pierce of Patton, Mo. -- with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages, joining 135 other 4.0 graduates in the history of the college.

Don Dickerson, a Cape Girardeau attorney who is president of the Board of Regents, said 135 students had recorded perfect 4.0 grades over the 128-year history of the school.

"It may be a little scary out there for graduates," Dickerson told the crowd. But "these graduates are well educated and will stand up and win."

Mixed job market

The job market for college graduates now may not be as bright as it was a year ago. Some graduates already have jobs, but others are still in the market.

Employers expect to hire 20 percent fewer graduates during the 2001-2002 school year, said Jerry Lee Westbrook, assistant dean of students and director of Career Services at the university.

"Hiring is down some," said Westbrook. "But it's that way all across the country."

This was recorded in a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers poll, noted Westbrook. According to the poll, forecasts indicate the number of jobs available to college graduates this year could be down by as much as 20 percent.

But the situation is not as dismal as one might believe. In some fields, shortages of employees are still there.

College graduates trained as teachers are finding they are in demand as a nation teacher shortage remains. Over the next 10 years, the nation will look for 2.5 million teachers, including as many as 10,000 in Missouri.

Job vacancies also exist in computer and electrical engineering fields and in mathematics.

rowen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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