Peru, Nebraska – Mike Johanns, former senator of Nebraska, gave the commencement address at Peru State College to a crowd of more than 3,100 graduates, family members, faculty and staff. The major theme of his speech was cultivating relationships and service to others.
Johanns was introduced by the Chancellor of the Nebraska State College System, Stan Carpenter. Carpenter thanked him for his work to support the College.
Johanns began by saying that it was great to be back on campus. He was also the commencement speaker in 2002.
He adds, “I could not be more thrilled to be a keynote speaker at commencement. Thank you graduates for sharing this day with me.”
He praised Peru State’s beautiful campus and historic commitment to the region. Johanns said it was also particularly an honor to be here during the sesquicentennial.
As he turned the direction of his address to the graduates, Johann said, “Applause dies. Trophies tarnish. Headlines fade. Material things do not last.”
After quizzing the crowd about recent award winners, Johanns asked the graduates to remember the family members, mentors and all the folks that profoundly affected their lives. There was clear recognition that this question was easier than his earlier quiz.
His parting advice was to, “Try to live your life so that you are the answer to that question.”
Johanns has more than 30 years of public service. He is a graduate of Creighton University’s School of Law and a founder of a law firm in Lincoln. Following 25 years at the firm, Johanns was elected the 47th Mayor of Lincoln. He won reelection to that office with no opposition, becoming the first Mayor of Lincoln to do so since the 1950s.
In 1998 he was elected Governor of the State of Nebraska. As Governor, Johanns twice served as chair of the National Governors Committee on Economic Development and Commerce. He also served as chair of the Midwestern Governor’s Association.
On December 2, 2004, Johanns was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as the 28th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, overseeing a staff of 90,000 worldwide. In his announcement nominating Johanns as agriculture secretary, President Bush stated that Mike Johanns was a man of action and of complete integrity.
Following his service as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Johanns was elected to represent the State of Nebraska as U.S. Senator. As Senator, Johanns’ committee assignments reflected his continuing work on agriculture and commerce.
Johanns is currently retired and enjoying time with his wife, Stephanie, and five grandchildren.
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