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Dr. Bordogna's Remarks


Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Deputy Director
Chief Operating Officer
Symposium on Broadening the Scientific and
Technological Workforce for the New
Millennium through Mentoring

September 7, 2000

Good morning and congratulations to the awardees. Although a public servant should not express preferences for specific events I'm going to break that rule. The mentoring awards ceremony is my favorite event.

In life, all of us want to do something that truly matters. Your work as mentors in science, mathematics, and engineering puts you right in the center of what matters. It matters to the individuals you guide and the society that will benefit. That's as good as it gets. The excellence with which you perform that task is our reason to celebrate and honor you.

I am refreshed and inspired to be in your presence. Mentors have impelled my life and career. Wonderful people have helped me set sound direction and then supported me to reach well beyond what I thought I could grasp... or even knew was there to be grasped.

I am energized just by the opportunity to talk about mentoring. I am passionate about the value and importance of helping others, especially students, reach their full potential to enrich society. In enriching all of us, they best enrich themselves.

The strength of our democracy has rested from the start on the principle that we are a land of opportunity enabled by an extraordinarily diverse workforce. But in our technologically sophisticated society, fast-paced change often causes the most expansive opportunities to be out-of-reach to many. It is easy to get left behind, especially for those presently disadvantaged.

Thus, we must embrace the concept of preparing people to take advantage of the opportunities. If we allow anyone to be left behind, we create a formula for our nation to be left behind. And so, we are talking about opportunities not only for individuals. We are also talking about ways to create expanded opportunities for the United States to compete and prosper.

Just last week, the New York Times featured a headline story on the nation's continuing demographic shifts. Foreign workers now represent 12 percent of the nation's workforce. This is the highest percentage in 70 years. And while this inclusion in the workforce adds to our skills and culture base, many of our native-born citizens remain unskilled, unemployed, and thus lost to our nation's capacity to perform up to its potential.

This failure to capitalize on our great diversity limits our prosperity as well as our constitutional equity. We know that diversity can give strength to the fabric of our society. It can be our strongest suit for enabling the future.

By embracing underrepresented minorities, more women, and persons with disabilities, and so many others, we weave a versatile and resilient fabric for the nation's future. Our scientific and technological strength can only increase through this diversity of perspective.

This national need is an imperative if we are to succeed in handling the increasing complexity of today's world. Realizing this end is best accomplished through mentors, those whom we are honoring here today.

For this and so many other reasons, your work is society's work. It is work for the future - and for the soul of the country. Most importantly, it is work that nurtures the human spirit.

Once again, congratulations to all of you.



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