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Sending off tomorrow's leaders: 193 students take part in DWU graduation

Steve Jarding laid out the challenges for Dakota Wesleyan University's graduates on Sunday. As the featured speaker at DWU's commencement ceremonies at the Corn Palace, Jarding ran through the number of challenges that lie ahead of the students. ...

Trevor Wietzema, right, hugs Levi Rozeboom, left, after he accepted his college diploma on Sunday at the Corn Palace during the 2019 Dakota Wesleyan University commencement ceremony. Wietzema received his bachelor's degree in exercise science. (Sam Fosness / Republic)
Trevor Wietzema, right, hugs Levi Rozeboom, left, after he accepted his college diploma on Sunday at the Corn Palace during the 2019 Dakota Wesleyan University commencement ceremony. Wietzema received his bachelor's degree in exercise science. (Sam Fosness / Republic)

Steve Jarding laid out the challenges for Dakota Wesleyan University's graduates on Sunday.

As the featured speaker at DWU's commencement ceremonies at the Corn Palace, Jarding ran through the number of challenges that lie ahead of the students. Jarding, a Mitchell native turned Harvard University professor, addressed how much the world has evolved in the past 50 years and urged 193 DWU graduates to take those challenges head on.

"No generation is better equipped to deal with these challenges, and no generation has the capacity and intelligence to take these on than yours," Jarding said. "You are our heroes. You are our giants, and we need you."

Jarding noted the rapid innovation of technology, mainly the internet, which he said has created a universal language that's contributed to the increased knowledge of the younger generations.

"Knowledge is at our fingertips now with the internet. And in five years, knowledge will double every 12 hours, according to a recent study," Jarding said. "This is a different world, and it's unlike anything we've ever seen."

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Jarding addressed climate change, which he said is a critical issue for the future of the world. Jarding said the rise in sea levels and gradual warming of the Earth is an alarming concern that's a direct result of climate change. To help combat climate change, Jarding pointed to reducing carbon emissions as a key challenge for the group of graduates heading into the real world.

In addition to his career in academia, Jarding has founded two international consulting companies, and shared some of his worldwide knowledge to the DWU graduates. Jarding said there are more than 1 billion refugees in the world as of now, but that number will only increase if sea levels continue to rise.

"An admiral with the U.S. military said 'our greatest threat to the Navy is not North Korea, Russia or China, it's the rising sea levels that could put 117 of our bases underwater,'" Jarding said. "Eighty percent of humanity in the world lives within 80 miles of an ocean, and those folks are going to be on the move at the rate we're at."

After delving into the many challenges that lie ahead, Jarding gave the crop of DWU students a vote of confidence in taking the world problems head on.

"If we're going to solve next generation problems, we need next-generation leaders, and you're those leaders," Jarding said during his address. "You have a daunting responsibility to lead this world. Don't be neutral."

Following the commencement address, Ms. Wesleyan Maria Koenen spoke on behalf of the student body and expressed her gratitude for the DWU faculty and professors.

"To our professors, you've molded us into the young professionals and people we are today," Koenen said. "You pushed us until we thought we would break, and I thank you all for your wisdom."

DWU President Amy Novak recognized Bill Farris for an honorary doctorate. Farris was a 1969 DWU graduate and enjoyed a successful career in the business sector, while also serving on the university's Board of Trustees. Farris' most notable achievements include serving as the senior vice president of Citibank in South Dakota and manager for Wachovia.

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