Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs High School commencement speaker Matt Tredway told the 142 graduating seniors Saturday that he sensed they had a fresh perspective that will lead them to success if they are passionate about what they do.
“You have everything you need to keep climbing,” said Tredway, a local adventurer who attempted to summit Mount Everest in 2006.
Many of the graduating seniors were Tredway’s sixth-grade students at Steamboat Springs Middle School at the time and were able to share in the journey.
“This class will always hold a special spot in my heart,” Tredway said.
The students back then were very curious about Tredway’s trek, and they weren’t afraid to ask questions.
He recalled one student asking him if he was getting fat. Yes, Tredway explained because on a long expedition like Everest your body needs reserves for energy so he was on an ice cream diet.
“Question of the year: ‘Aren’t you afraid to die?’” Tredway recalled. “If you hide from anything that can potentially kill you, you can be dead pretty much already,” Tredway said.
Tredway told the graduates to find their own adventures because he said quality of life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty they are willing to take on.
“Find what interest you and pursue that and be passionate about that,” he said.
Continuing on about his lessons learned from a lifetime of climbing mountains, Tredway offered several other pieces of advice: “Practice,” he said, because no matter what it is, you get better if you practice.
Tredway urged the graduates to listen to the “little voices” in their heads. He said he has two of them and on climbing expeditions the one says, “go, go, go,” while the other says, “Are you crazy? Get down from there.”
“Listen to the little voices,” Tredway said. “We all have them. They keep us safe.”
He also urged the graduates to not fear failure. After two years of training, Tredway had to turn back just a few thousand feet from the summit of Everest because of a heart problem. He said he doesn’t consider it a failure but rather another step.
“If you’re not willing to lose, there’s not much you can win,” he said.
Distinguished student speakers at the commencement were Jake Barker, Lev Tsypin, Emily Hannah and Mary O’Connell.
Hannah and O’Connell also shared advice that included simple things like the importance of wearing sunscreen, travel and being the nicest person you can be. “Don’t grow up too fast,” they said, but know when to act mature.
“Make the most of every opportunity, learn as much as you can, and give back to the world,” they said.
The Class of 2012 earned 129 local scholarships worth $127,300. They earned an additional $1.4 million in merit-based scholarships from their respective universities.
Some graduates also reduced their college costs by taking advanced courses, especially Brandon Krentz. He walked the stage May 5 during Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus graduation after earning his associates degree while attending high school.
Krentz will start at the University of Denver in the fall as a junior, and is planning on attending for three years for pre-med and a master of business administration.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com