University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Pitt-Johnstown Seal

Address by Jeffrey J. Burtner


Jeffrey N. Burtner, Class of 2010
Student Government Association President

Good afternoon. On behalf of the student body, it gives me great pleasure to offer congratulations to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown graduating class of 2010. I would like to thank President Spectar and the Pitt-Johnstown community for affording me the honor of speaking to you today.

It’s hard to believe that our time here at Pitt-Johnstown has come to an end. It seems like just yesterday we were freshmen, trying to figure out “just what is a Mountain Cat?”
But rather than speaking of endings, today is really about beginnings. Today is the first of many stops on the journey of life.  Fortunately, we have been prepared for this journey by dedicated professors who have taught us how to cultivate critical thinking skills, and how to think rationally in an irrational world.

The world that we are about to inherit is unlike the world of our parents and grandparents. We are inheriting a world with rising poverty, disease, and famine. Our nation is engaged in wars with individuals that do not fall under any flag or government. With globalization, China and India are excelling in industry and education.  With rising population, access to potable water will become a major issue in our lifetime.

Instead of scaring us off, this is a time of extraordinary opportunity for today’s graduates. We have the ability to see solutions to problems that previous generations are unable to fathom. We are the technology generation. We are the generation that demands social equality in all spheres of life in all corners of the world. We are the generation of ideas and we will not settle for mediocrity. We are a generation that has committed to more service and outreach than any other generation that has come before us. We are a force to positively revolutionize this world, and our Pitt-Johnstown education has equipped us with the tools necessary to succeed.

In helping to prepare ourselves for the unique challenges of living in a 21st Century world, we here at Pitt-Johnstown have participated in the Pitt-Johnstown RealWorld Action Program. Through our participation in this program, we have developed skills in Leadership, Involvement, Service, and Teamwork. Our participation in this program has given us national recognition. So much so that this year we have been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which is the highest federal recognition a university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.  Last year, we participated in more than 9,000 hours of community service. 

And so, as we are gathered here to celebrate our accomplishments, we are standing at the cusp of a limitless future. At the crossroads of unpaved paths. It is up to us to smooth over those paths, and turn them into the roads that will guide those that follow. Again, congratulations and thank you.