Sky Lantz-Wagner – Bio and Speech


Sky is a TESOL Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) candidate who has recently returned from his Peace Corps service in China where he worked at Tongren Univeristy in the Guizhou Province. Before leaving for China, Sky was actively involved at MIIS participating in student council, adopting a bed in Our Green Thumb community garden, and starting B.U.I.L.D., a language learning and teaching club. During his two years in China he taught a variety of English courses including business English, speaking, listening, and writing, started an English language newspaper on campus, and volunteered at a local orphanage. Upon graduation he hopes to pursue a career in language education in the United States.


Dear classmates, friends, and colleagues. It is my honor to stand here, together with you, as we graduate from one of the finest, most forward-thinking graduate schools in the country. We have come a long way since we started. Give yourselves an applause! I would like to thank all the family members, friends, and loved ones who have traveled or made sacrifices to be here to share this celebration. Your presence is the best graduation gift any of us could ask for.

I remember my first trip to Monterey in the spring of 2009. Dr. Kathi Bailey, the advisor to the TESOL peace corps master’s international program that I was applying for let me borrow her aquarium passes with one simple set of instructions: Don’t lose these. Well, guess what … I lost them. I have no idea what happened only that when I left the aquarium they weren’t in my pocket. The first thought that crossed my mind was “It is a lovely town, too bad I’m an idiot.” Before leaving the aquarium I went to the help desk and had them reissue Dr. Bailey’s cards and send them to her house. I came back to school, apologized for losing the passes and tried my best to enjoy what I was sure would be my last trip to Monterey for a long time. Fortunately, I was accepted to MIIS. Not only that, after I started classes, Dr. Bailey offered me a job as her graduate assistant. I took it as a sign she had forgiven me. After we had worked together for some time, Dr. Bailey confessed that she hired me because she valued the ability to creatively solve problems, which my small mistake with the aquarium tickets allowed me to show I could do.

It didn’t take long before I realized that everyone at MIIS is dedicated to solving problems, not only at our school, but in the real world. Our slogan to “Be the Solution” reflects this dedication. However, being the solution is not always as easy as it sounds. The problems that face our generation are serious: water security, global warming, human trafficking, nuclear proliferation, discrimination and marginalization are a few among many. Dealing with these issues is daunting and sometimes even depressing. It takes a special kind of person, a special kind of school to tackle these problems head on. Our students are those people. MIIS is that school.

That we believe we can be the solution is evident in every program: TESOL/TFL, MBA, IEP, IPS, TNI, TLM, make it easy for students to travel around world to gain degree-relevant experience and bring invaluable insights back to their classrooms. Many of the programs are connected to the Peace Corps, whose goals are closely aligned with that of the Institute. There are also new, cutting-edge degree programs such as IEM, NTS that address the ever-changing needs of a globalized society. There are also joint degrees that allow students to study mutually supportive fields as environmental policy and business administration or public administration and international education.

Thinking about being the solution reminds me of a quote by Minor Myers, Jr., the former president of Illinois Wesleyan University who willed the graduates from that school to, “Go out into the world and do well, but more importantly go out into the world and do good.” We are all here because we share a common desire to “do good.” Doing good means motivating, inspiring, empowering, and changing. Doing good is not always easy, but it means that our children and future generations can inherit a world that is free from hate and harm and where people are free to think, feel, and believe as the please.

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