Standing near the 20-yard line at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Tuesday morning, University of Montana President Royce Engstrom faced 900 high school freshmen and challenged them to become the next Sandra Day O’Connor or Elon Musk.
One became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the other invented PayPal and Tesla Motors. They also finished high school, Engstrom noted, his voice playing over the stadium’s sound system.
“Sandra Day O’Connor and Elon Musk were both high school and college graduates,” Engstrom said. “Graduation will put you on a path of adventure and a life of contribution.”
Held in a brisk October wind, the third annual Graduation Matters Freshmen Rally drew a lineup of speakers ranging from Denise Juneau, the superintendent of the state Office of Public Instruction, to students, a professor and leaders of Missoula County Public Schools.