Faculty and staff are FHSU's unsung heroes


By Randy Gonzales
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. - The faculty and staff at Fort Hays State University are the unsung heroes, the featured speaker said at Tuesday's Professional Development Day. They also were challenged to make a difference with FHSU's students.

Antonio Soave, Kansas Secretary of Commerce, praised FHSU in his remarks given in the Memorial Union's Fort Hays Ballroom. Kansas' core values are Fort Hays State's core values, he said.

"That is the beautiful opportunity you have each and every day," Soave said. "You're not just shaping minds. In that respect, you are truly unsung heroes. We are truly thankful."

FHSU President Mirta M. Martin said she was appreciative of the efforts made by faculty and staff throughout the year.

"Thank you for all the hard work you've done throughout the summer and throughout the academic year," Martin said. "Thank you for the work you're going to do forward. There are not enough hours in the day to do the things we need to do but somehow each of you -- together -- we seem to manage to get it done. I would be remiss if I didn't say 'thank you' a million times."

Soave is appreciative of the work FHSU does, and its values. He said there are those who think people cannot agree on core values.

"I would challenge that," Soave said. "What about integrity, compassion, kindness, justice, humility? That's what places like Hays stand for."

Those values can transfer to FHSU's students, Soave said.

"All of those things you get to impart on the students," Soave said. "What a wonderful blessing to be in that situation, to have that sort of connection with these students. That is why you are truly the unsung heroes."

But there is a responsibility, too. Even in a heightened political season, each and every person can still make a difference, Soave said.

"We are shaping the minds of tomorrow," Soave said. "We don't like what we see, let's change it. We don't like what's going on, then grab ahold of it. Let's make a difference.

"We know that you can, because you're doing it one student at a time," he added. "In turn, what ends up happening? We change the world of tomorrow."

Soave said it is important to make a difference. Now is the time, he urged.

"If you ask me what's at stake, the answer is everything," Soave said. "What's at stake at Fort Hays State? The answer is everything.

"If we don't change it, who will change it? If we don't make the move in that direction, who will make the move in that direction? If we don't stand up for what is right, for what is just, for what is kind, for what is noble, who is going to do it?"

Soave told his personal story, of being the son of an immigrant, of understanding the importance of education and values. He came from a poor family, and his father had little education. But Soave's father always understood the importance of education.

When he was 13 years old, Soave spent his summer working with his father and uncle breaking apart concrete sidewalks and driveways using hand tools. His father said his would come away understanding the value of hard work and the dignity of hard work. Soave also understood from his father the value of getting a good education.

"If you don't think you make a difference, I am living proof," Soave said. "The son of an immigrant without an education. A family that often struggled to make ends meet. But you know what we had? Dignity."

Soave said the students at Fort Hays State will have their memories of their time here. But it's important they also leave with something else instilled in them, he said.

"If you touched their heart, if you truly inspired them to be better people, to go out and make a significant difference in the world, that is what they will come away with," Soave said. "And that is a beautiful thing.

"For that, I would truly like to thank you for what you do," he added. "For the state of Kansas, you are truly unsung heroes."

Cutline: Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave, left, is with FHSU President Mirta M. Martin at Tuesday's Professional Development Day on the Fort Hays State campus.

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