University President Soraya M. Coley received valuable messages about hope, pride, and resilience in the face of seemingly unsurmountable obstacles from her parents, family and community growing up.
Those early lessons about overcoming adversity gave her the wings to soar toward her dreams, a theme that was at the centerpiece of the speech she gave during her Investiture on Feb. 5. She pledged to continue helping Cal Poly Pomona students realize their potential and achieve the impossible.
“I believe we have an imperative to help others see the possibility of achieving the impossible, through our renewed commitment to excellence in all areas, through our reexamination of our polytechnic identity in a 21st century global environment, where we ask how best can students learn, what must they learn, and what applications, experiments, or experiences are best suited for achieving our educational goals.”
Coley shared examples of how the university has long been working to encourage and enable students, educating and enriching their lives through various programs and efforts, and engaging and extending beyond the campus boundaries.
She told the story of Matt, a first-generation college student who struggled before staff in the Office of Admissions & Outreach and a professor took him under his wing.
Coley also shared the tale of an alumna, Martha, who overcame academic challenges in math to graduate with a 3.5 GPA in computer information systems and who is now the president and CEO of a multi-million dollar company.
“How many more Marthas or Matts are discouraged from their interest and passion because there has been little exposure and investment in bringing their talents to the surface?” Coley asked. “It is that very journey of exploration that foretells the excitement that lies ahead for us as an organization focused on being a ‘Geiger Counter’ for talent.”
Coley called on Cal Poly Pomona to become a national model for collaborative and experiential learning, as well remain leaders in readying students for careers in the STTEAAM fields – Science, Technology, Tourism, Engineering, Agriculture, the Arts and Mathematics. The university will be a “latent talent magnet,” tapping into the unrealized potential and talent of prospective students who might not demonstrate their abilities in obvious ways.
“We will work to identify, cultivate, and illuminate the talent, strengths, and untapped potential of our students,” Coley said.
To read the full text of the president’s speech, download a PDF of the transcript.