Be the Change
I would like to share with the community one of the significant programs we have created over the last 8 years and that is the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund. I have provided the speech I delivered this past week and I hope you have a great sense of pride as I do in preparing our future youth in becoming our next generation leadership.
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you once again for supporting this wonderful event.
Before I proceed, I just want you to be aware of the impressive efforts of many young people who have made this evening special. Tonight you will see many talented students who have made possible the behind-the-scenes part of this wonderful scholarship program.
From the music, to the program design, to the slide show, and even the desserts we are enjoying, each is the product of local student effort. Every year this never ceases to amaze me. I feel fortunate to be among students like this. They give me great hope for our future. And I take my hat off to their parents and teachers as well.
“Be the Change” is an appropriate theme for this evening’s banquet. The students we honor here tonight are living proof of the power of change. Tonight I would like to take a little bit of time and share with you the reason why this program was started.
Many of tonight’s recipients have faced challenges and overcome many odds and yet here they are: being bold and fearless enough to change the circumstances of the past—and beyond that—being bold and fearless enough to tackle the future with the same determination.
Many years ago, when I was a police officer I saw a need for change in this community. The way I saw it, too many young people were falling through the cracks. Maybe it is because I was a father of young children and my heart ached for their struggles or the teenagers I saw whose futures looked bleak—usually because an adult had failed them, sometimes because they had failed themselves.
When I was a School Resource Officer, There were many examples of young students I had known, that would get disenchanted with school due to outside influences and decide it that by dropping out would be in their best interest. Unfortunately I would later see them out on the streets with no job or a stable place to live. Eventually many of them would end up in jail or probation.
I wanted to find a way to change what I saw. I wanted to give students hope and I promised myself that someday I would make a difference. Years later, life took a turn and I ended up with the incredible honor of being elected to this office.
And within mere weeks of my being sworn-in in January 2006, an amazing and dedicated core group of volunteers began to help build this scholarship program—one of the vehicles we have used to help change the future of young people in our community.
When we launched the Mayors Scholarship Program in 2006, we deliberately chose to target local students who otherwise may not have been able to attend college for one reason or another—but who absolutely have the ability and skills needed to succeed. We wanted to change—diminish—the barriers to access higher education.
And we did. I am incredibly proud of this community. I would like to point out a few of the accomplishments we have achieved 2006.
•We’ve raised over $689,000.
•Awarded 198 scholarships,
•Established an endowment fund to ensure the program’s future—a fund which, by the way, could use more funding. ... I’ll take your checks after the program!
That represents real change—change for the better.
As I leave office, I admit to a certain amount of pride in these accomplishments. NO -- they have not been mine! It truly is all about these kids, the generosity of your sponsors, and the untiring efforts of teachers. But for me to have played a role in bringing awareness to the larger community is very satisfying. Thank you for not just listening but for reaching deeply into your pockets to demonstrate your commitment to this vision.
To have changed something for the better ... to you students, I wish to pass on my strongly held belief that there are few greater feelings than being part of positive change.
But then maybe you already know this. As I watched tonight’s video, I was impressed by your commitment to changing the future. Your energy and vision was fun to watch.
Please allow me to share a word or two of advice gained from years of watching this program unfold. Graduating and leaving home for college is big change. You will likely face challenges while there.
But if you want to live life to the fullest, you can’t shrink from the challenges; no matter how uncomfortable they make you feel. Sometimes we try to resist the change that allows us to grow. But you will never truly learn who you are or what you’re capable of if you do not face challenges and changes head-on.
And it doesn’t have to be challenges—even good things like multiple career options and learning opportunities can produce change that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Never forget that you got here. This means you have already developed a belief in yourselves that no one can take from you. And never forget you have the support of everyone in this room.
Some of the greatest experiences I have had in this program is seeing the young students grow into young adults as they share with me their educational highlights as they come back from college or tell me the successes they have found in the workplace. These students TRULY HAVE MADE A SIGNICANT CHANGE, NOT ONLY IN THEIR LIVES BUT IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS. AND THAT IS WHAT TRULY LIFE IS ALL ABOUT!
Before I sit down I want to tell you that The MSF will be changing its internal administration and becoming its own 501(c)3 charitable entity this year. We welcome your participation as we undertake this.
The only thing—besides another thank you—I can think to say right now is that I truly hope to see each of you here next year. We have structured this program to allow it to live on. We only need your continued support. I trust you will keep that hope alive and continue to allow the youth of Idaho Falls to change and shape the future. Remember, Be the Change!
Jared D. Fuhriman, Mayor