Saturday 2, 2009
MARQUETTE, Mich.—U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak was the keynote speaker today at Northern Michigan University’s spring commencement. He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Stupak urged NMU graduates to “learn from learning, learn from listening and learn from experience.” He also quoted from a speech that was planned but never delivered by President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.

“President Kennedy planned to say that ‘leadership and learning are indispensible to each other,’” Stupak said. “With new technology and a changing global economy, the job you hold today could be gone tomorrow. The demands of the global economy have placed greater pressure on the American workforce to be adaptable. Current statistics indicate that most of you will change jobs at least 11 times in your lifetime. Changing jobs or careers can be a painful or exhilarating process.”

            Stupak tracked his own diverse career progression and shared the varied professional backgrounds of his congressional staff to illustrate the importance of embracing opportunity, learning from each life experience and remaining flexible to new challenges.

He started out as an Escanaba police officer and became a Michigan State Police trooper a year later. While working full time, he completed his bachelor’s and law degrees. A career-ending knee injury forced him to retire early from law enforcement, but he said the very next day, he moved to Menominee with his family to begin practicing law full time.

Stupak’s political career began as a state representative for Menominee, Delta and Dickinson counties. Since 1992, he has represented Michigan’s first congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is one of the largest such districts in the nation, encompassing 31 counties from the entire Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

It was fitting that he gave his speech in the NMU Superior Dome. Stupak has been a vigorous proponent of the U.S. Olympic Education Center, which is located in the facility. And a scholarship fund he helped to secure for Olympic athletes is named after his late son, B.J., whose photo hangs nearby in the dome on the NMU Wall of Fame.


Stupak NMU, Page 2


“Some of [life’s] challenges will be magic and some will be tragic,” Stupak told the graduates. “My greatest personal challenge is dealing with the death of our son. It is difficult for our family to accept that he is gone, but still there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that his memory and drive as a student

athlete is being realized by today’s Olympic athletes who are trained and educated with the help of the B.J. Stupak Olympic Scholarship Program.

“This past week, Obama Administration officials pledged to place the Olympic Education Scholarships in the president’s budget and seek an increase in funding so more students can train to represent our country in the Olympics while receiving a college education.”

Stupak addressed about 780 NMU graduates who participated in today’s ceremony from among the 1,055 students eligible to graduate.