MSU President's Newspaper Column

May 21, 2022

Pride in your roots, gratitude, humility, and charity: the recipe for a happy and successful life

Saturday, May 14 was a memorable and special day in the life of our university and in the lives of our newest graduates. “Be proud of your roots at Mayville State,” and “Use the lessons of ‘personal service’ learned at MSU to go out and do good in the world,” seemed to be the overall themes for the day as those sentiments came through over and over again as speakers addressed their audiences.

In my remarks, I challenged the graduates to remain true to Mayville State’s motto throughout their lifetimes, remembering that personal service helps everyone around us to become better.

I also encouraged the graduates to be proud of their roots at Mayville State University and never to be intimidated about coming from a small place where people care about one another and work hard for the good of all.

To make my point, I referred to Dr. Ron Reilkoff, who graduated from Mayville State with a bachelor’s degree in 1997. He feared he might feel intimidated when he entered his residency at Yale School of Medicine alongside graduates of Johns Hopkins and Harvard. He is without a doubt a fine example, showing that there is nothing to fear and that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Dr. Reilkoff is currently an assistant professor of both medicine and surgery at the University of Minnesota. In addition to clinical practice, he teaches, does research, and wears a couple of administrative hats. He oversees the ICUs at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and directs a clerkship in intensive care medicine for fourth-year medical students at the U of M medical school. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, and critical care medicine.

Dr. Reilkoff credits his experiences as a member of the Mayville State baseball team and coach Scott Berry for his success. He recently said, “Baseball helps you learn how to deal with adversity, understand the value of your hard work, and appreciate the importance of a team and your teammates. The experience and lessons learned during my time at Mayville State are the foundation for my career success.”

I challenged the graduates to draw on their Mayville State experiences as they travel on their road to success and happiness, just as Dr. Reilkoff is doing.

In his keynote address, Tom Capouch, 1984 Mayville State graduate, spoke on two topics, humility and charity.

Tom said, “Humility is a wonderful characteristic, but humility does not mean we are required to be subservient and it does not mean we are required to be apologetic for our backgrounds.” As he said, there is always someone who is willing to point out our shortcomings, but we should not take stock in them. “It is easy to believe the critics,” he said, “but it is better to believe in yourself.”

In his words of encouragement and inspiration, Tom said, “It’s true we need to walk humbly, but trust your instincts, trust your education, trust where you are from. You are well-prepared for the awesome adventure that lies ahead.”

On the topic of charity, Capouch shared, “On this planet we call earth, only 1% of the population has a college experience. We who have been privileged to attend university have a great responsibility to others. It is incumbent on all of us, we who are the true 1%, to be generous with our time and treasure. Being charitable is more than just the right thing to do. When we are generous, we better understand the meaning of gratitude, and a heart of gratitude is the key to a happy life.”

Tom left the Class of 2022 with these parting words: “So, my friends, move forward with confidence.  Trust your instincts. You come from a great a place, a great university. My prayer for you is that you make a life by what you give.”

And with that, Commencement 2022 is in the books.