Andrew Jones/U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shakes the hand of one of the graduates at the June 7 ceremony at Salish Kootenai College.

‘Pay it Forward’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan Tells Graduating Class


On June 7, Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana graduated its largest class ever, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had plenty of words of wisdom for the new graduates.

The Missoulian reports that he told the new graduates to appreciate those who helped along the way “and remember to pay it forward,” Duncan said, “that investment people made in you.”

Salish Kootenai College graduated its largest class ever this year on June 7—198 degrees were awarded to 190 students. (Andrew Jones/U.S. Department of Education)

“None of us get to graduation day all by ourselves,” Duncan told the class. Whether it’s family, friends, counselors or professors who help along the way, most people who are successful have had help. “The truth is we all need help at some point,” Duncan said.

He also told the graduates to embrace the college’s motto as they go out into the world—“grounded in tradition, charging into the future.”

“I’m confident you will give back to your tribal community,” Duncan told them. “Pursue your passion—get up every day doing what you love.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the featured speaker during the graduation ceremony June 7. He encouraged students to “pay it forward.” (Andrew Jones/U.S. Department of Education)

NBC Montana reported that many of the graduates they spoke to already have jobs lined up, and many others were thankful for the education they received at Salish Kootenai College.

“I learned a lot. It was just amazing. I made a lot of friends and the education was awesome,” graduate Kourtnie Gopher told NBC.

“They’re behind you all the way, they give you all you need. There are so many ways to get scholarships and grants through this school,” graduate Danielle Rochte told NBC.

A group of graduates stands during the graduation ceremony June 7 at Salish Kootenai College. (Andrew Jones/U.S. Department of Education)

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page