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

On June 7, Salish Kootenai College graduated its largest class ever, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had plenty of words of wisdom.
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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.”

Andrew Jones/U.S. Department of Education

Salish Kootenai College graduated its largest class ever this year on June 7—198 degrees were awarded to 190 students.

“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.”

Andrew Jones/U.S. Department of Education

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

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.

Andrew Jones/U.S. Department of Education

A group of graduates stands during the graduation ceremony June 7 at Salish Kootenai College.