Lakeland College

Kooyenga discusses personal journey at opening convocation

Throughout life's journey, the choices people make determine the content for their life book. Dale Kooyenga, a 2000 Lakeland College graduate currently serving in the Wisconsin State Assembly, asked Lakeland students to examine the contents of their life book during Lakeland's opening convocation, the formal kickoff to the 2013-14 academic year.

Dale Kooyenga, Wisconsin State AssemblyKooyenga, who graduated from Lakeland with a bachelor's degree in accounting, has contributed plenty of positives to his life book since graduating. In addition to his current role as an elected official, he worked as an accountant at KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms, and served in the U.S. Army in Iraq/Afghanistan.

Kooyenga reflected on his time in college while addressing a packed Bradley Theatre. He said the skills he learned have led him down a path of career success. He encouraged students to be ready to adjust to life's curves. "There are life experiences that will change your main plan in life, so you need to learn to be flexible and open to change," he said.

Life also requires tough decisions, and Kooyenga suggested students know how to take the right approach and understand what motivates their decisions. That will allow you to write a compelling life book that will be source of pride. "My main goal in life is, someday when my grandkids sit down and read my book, I want them to be able to put that book down and say, ‘Wow that was a very good book,'" Kooyenga said. "'There were some ups and downs, and he made a lot of mistakes, but he fought for what he thought was right, and he fought with a passion.'"

Kooyenga concluded with three pieces of advice: Be there for your loved ones, remember that everyone has something to teach you and to treasure your personal integrity and relationships over material things.

Much of this advice, Kooyenga said, came from his father, who worked as a garbage man. "The biggest thing to the people that love you is for you to just show up and be present," Kooyenga said. "All that truly matters is your integrity, and the relationships you have."

Students also heard from Lakeland Interim President Dan Eck, who delivered the charge for the academic year. He urged students to take care of themselves, take care of each other and take care of the campus.

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