President Wilfrid, Distinguished Guests, Faculty & Staff, Graduates, Parents, and Friends:

            I regard it as a high honor to be named a Distinguished Teacher, particularly in an institution that values good teaching so highly, and I want to express my sincere thanks to all those who participated in the selection process.  To the graduates, I want to say I hope you can choose a career that will be as satisfying as mine has been for me.  I hope it’s something you really enjoy doing, because then, when you have to work hard at it for long hours (as is true in every really worthwhile profession), it won’t seem as much like work because it really interests you and may even occupy your imagination during your free time.


            I think it is generally known that many students entering math courses have had some unfortunate experiences in their background that have led to a dislike or even a fear of math.  I have dedicated my career to enabling students to overcome their anxiety, to learn math, and be successful.  Some of my students have even decided to be math majors or found for the first time that they could really do math.  For teachers, it doesn’t get better than that. 


            I have always tried to enable students to feel comfortable asking questions and to let them know I am willing to do whatever I can to help them.  They just need to reciprocate by putting in the required effort.  This communication with one’s students – that you respect them, are interested in them, and want to help them – is essential to good teaching.


            I must salute those who are graduating today.  Many of you have really had to sacrifice to get this far.  Your lives have not been easy.  Some work more than one job and manage families and still stay in school.  I hope that one of the qualities of distinguished teaching is for us never to forget how difficult a student’s life can be – both inside and outside the classroom.  This is why many of us chose to teach here – we do understand; and we do want to help you grow. 


            Today should be a day of great triumph for you.  Celebrate it with your family and friends.  As a mathematician, I’m fond of saying  everything has its positives and its negatives.”  Best wishes to all of you for a future filled with positives and exponential success . . . and as my grandchildren would say, “Sweet!”       Thank you.


Betty Cornelius

Professor of Mathematics

Mercer County Community College

May 25, 2006