Alumni Welcome Speaker - Major Chris Gookin '99

Major Chris Gookin

Major Chris Gookin began his military career in 1988 with the U.S. Navy where he served as a Gunner's Mate (Guns) and Boat Coxswain. In 1992, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served the rest of his enlisted time as an Infantryman. In 2003, he received a direct commission as a second lieutenant; Medical Service Corps and he served in Mountain Infantry, Armored, Cavalry, Brigade Headquarters, Joint Force Headquarters and several other types of units in the Army National Guard. Major Gookin has commanded at all levels to include a Forward Support Cavalry Troop.
He served in Desert Storm in 1991, Kosovo from 2002-2003, Iraq from 2004-2006 and Afghanistan in 2009-2010.
His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Combat Medic Badge, Combat Action Badge, numerous campaign and other personal and unit awards.
Major Gookin received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications at Champlain College, and received his Masters Degree in Higher Education; Student Leadership from Cambridge College, Cambridge Mass. He worked in higher education from 1999-2008 at Cambridge College and Norwich University.
He is currently assigned as the Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs Officer. Major Gookin and his family reside in Georgia, VT.
While at Champlain College he worked as an Orientation Leader and Peer Tutor. Major Gookin currently is an Alumni Advisory Board member at Champlain College.

He delivered the Alumni Welcome to the graduating Class of 2016 at Champlain College on May 14, 2016. Watch Major Gookin's welcome on video.


Good Morning,
Thank you very much for that very kind introduction. Board of Trustees, President Laackman, Provost Quinn, distinguished guests, graduates...it is an honor and privilege for me to be here with all of you this morning on this momentous occasion and I am humbled to have been asked to speak to you on your accomplishments and your day.
I've recently returned to the Champlain College Community after many years away and I'd like to borrow some of your valuable time and provide some advice, insights and observations based on my experiences, reminiscences, and from a hard road too often traveled.
I'd like to be able to tell you the one thing that will lead to personal or professional fulfillment but it's my impression at this stage of my life is that the one thing is an individual attainment and should not and cannot be measured against others...
You need to take the opportunity to thank your parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses, partners, guardians, professors and staff members or those who made your college experience possible.
You should be proud of this accomplishment it is a gateway to many future opportunities and many of those opportunities won't be readily apparent.
In all your future endeavors; Be a leader...in the absence of decision make one and own it. You will need to a strategic leader, a tactical leader, a technical leader and in all of these roles you will need to be more than competent...strive to be a steward of your profession.
Take the time to initiate, develop, and cultivate relationships...you can't only go to people when you need something...
Realize your roles within any team will change; leader, player, supporting staff...value all of the team take the time to identify talented individuals, take an interest in junior personnel and assist in their professional development ...people are our greatest resource.
Leave organizations better than when you arrived.
Maintain a high touch-zero defect work ethic... aggressively pursue opportunities in the all aspects of your life...but not at the expense of others.
Be competent and compassionate deal with people with integrity, honesty, and candor.
Whether you leave this community after graduation or stay...look for philanthropic opportunities in your community to give back...look toward a collective social responsibility adding to its framework and its effective reach both in those willing to serve and expanding impact for the benefit of society at large.

You can either enjoy the destination or the journey that is up to you.
In closing I'd like to share a quote from Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee nation:

...So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and
its purpose in the service of your people...

Thank you, congratulations class of 2016...
Audeamus - Let Us Dare!


Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 382 Colleges: 2018 Edition. For the third year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2018 "America's Best Colleges," and an "A+ School for B Students" and is ranked in the top 100 Regional Universities of the North. Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2018 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2018 College of Distinction. For more information, visit  www.champlain.edu.