Inslee tells School for Deaf grads about success, failure

Governor's commencement address explores dealing with life's 'rocky roads'

By Susan Parrish, Columbian Education Reporter



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Learn more about Washington School for the Deaf at

Watch a three-second video showing American Sign Language for "applause" at

Learn more

Learn more about Washington School for the Deaf at

Watch a three-second video showing American Sign Language for “applause” at

“Every single success story is built on failure,” Gov. Jay Inslee told the graduating class at Washington School for the Deaf Thursday night.

In Vancouver for several meetings, Inslee gave his commencement address to the school’s seven graduates for his last gig of a long day before he and his wife, Trudi, headed back to Olympia. His enthusiasm for the students’ accomplishments was tempered with a dose of reality.

“You’re probably going to run into some rocky roads and take a stumble now and then,” Inslee said.

He told the story of a kid who was cut from Little League and later lost a high school election. As a college student, this person ran out of money, had to drop out of college and move home into his parents’ basement. Later, he lost congressional and gubernatorial elections.

“And here I am!” Inslee said, waving his arms, “governor of the best state in the United States! One thing I learned is, it’s not how you fall down,” he told the students. “It’s how you get up.”

The students hail from all over the state but live at the state school during the week. Inslee had taken the time to learn about each student’s post-graduation plans.

Trevor Mavor Dockter from Seattle plans to attend Clark College in the fall with a goal of becoming a teacher.

“My dad was a teacher. My brother’s a teacher,” Inslee said. “We need good teachers. Maybe you’ll come back here and teach.”

Miguel Angel Flores of Mabton wants to join his family’s butcher business.

Luis Alfonso Herrera Guerrero from Kent has been involved in the school’s robotics program and plans to become an IT professional.

Maria De Jesus Preciado Reina from Walla Walla plans to work in early childhood education. She’s played soccer with Special Olympics.

Samantha Lee Rowland of Ravensdale plans to pursue a nursing career.

Cesar Marcon Sanchez from Sunnyside plans to become a mechanic. He’s played soccer with Special Olympics.

Dalton Mark Schatz of Ridgefield spent the past year in the welding program at Fort Vancouver High School and plans to become a construction worker.

“I’ve shaken hands with six American presidents,” Inslee said, “but tonight, I get to shake hands with seven WSD graduates. You’re heroes. Good luck! Go get ’em!”

Students received their diplomas from Rick Hauan, executive director of the Center for Deafness and Hearing Loss, and then shook the hands of Jane Mulholland, WSD superintendent and the governor. Then each student crossed the stage, stopped and adjusted his or her mortarboard.

Throughout the auditorium, the hands of family, friends and fellow students erupted in American Sign Language for the word “applause.” A sea of hands held aloft, palms outward and fingers fanned out, all hands swished back and forth in a magical dance.

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