Skip to main content

Governor Scott: Set the Example

June 1, 2024

Governor Phil Scott joined the Community College of Vermont graduates, addressing the class of 2024 for their commencement.


A transcript of the Governor’s address is included below:

GOVERNOR SCOTT: Thank you, President Judy, and congratulations to all the graduates and your families.

It’s great to be here. I always look forward to this event because I appreciate a good work ethic and I know how hard you worked to get here.

As a state that desperately needs more skilled workers in the trades, healthcare, education, manufacturing, IT and more, the knowledge gained here at CCV is incredibly important.

And I especially enjoy being here to celebrate with you because I know many of you not only earned your degree but did so while holding jobs and taking care of your families. You’ve added a level of difficulty to what’s already challenging – earning a degree, improving your skills and making your way to a new career.

This kind of dedication and the courage to go after a new goal or set off onto a different path sets a great example for others.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about role models and mentors – those who set an example for others to follow.

As Governor, I get to hear from a lot of people. And I also get to read a lot about what people have to say about me, Vermont, government, national politics and so much more. As you might imagine, it’s not always pleasant.

To be honest this continued sense of anger and outrage – not just about life in general, but the hate directed at other people, including at total strangers – concerns me. And because it seems to be everywhere – online, on TV, in our newspapers and social media – it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing that can be done and it’s just part of life now. But I just can’t accept that. And I don’t think you should either.

Because there is something we can do. It just takes each of us doing better, and being the one to set the example, rather than waiting for others to do it. 


I lost one of my own role models this week: My close friend, Dick Mazza.

He owned a store in Mallets Bay and served in the Legislature for over forty years. Many have said he was the most influential member of the Senate for most of his time there.

But many of you probably have never even heard of him. And that actually tells you a lot.

He wasn’t on Twitter. He didn’t make the kind of negative, fiery comments that get you quoted in the paper. And as influential as he was in the statehouse, I don’t believe I heard him speak during floor debates more than a dozen times in my years in the Senate. And just so you know, many others speak that often in just one week.

He wasn’t about grandstanding; he was about listening. And because of that he got things done for the people of Vermont.

His approach, his kindness, his humor, and his character earned him the respect of his constituents, legislators, and governors of both parties. In fact, he and I were best of friends, inside and outside the statehouse, and he was a Democrat and I’m a Republican. That’s almost unheard of in these polarizing times. 

See, sometimes treating others the way you want to be treated gets you much further in life.


The fact is, we need many more people to set this kind of example. And the more of us who do, the more it will catch on. Because what I’ve seen over the years – especially during difficult times like last summer’s flooding – is that kindness is contagious.

This is important because our kids are watching. So, if we want all the anger and division we’re seeing to subside, we need to do our part.

I saw this for myself back during my racing career. I never thought of myself as a role model. I just wanted to race. But then I met a young fan who had the #14 (my racecar number) shaved onto the back of his head. That’s how much I meant to him. So, whether I liked it or not, I was his role model and I had to think about what that meant. Because the fact is, kids learn from us, and they want to be just like us.


As I said earlier, all of you have already stepped up to set the example. You’ve shown that hard work, commitment, and determination can bring opportunity. You should be proud of that.

And I’d ask you today to think about what you can do to lower the temperature out there; to help make our communities and state a better place to live.

On Thursday, I had the honor of giving the eulogy at Senator Mazza’s funeral. And I want to leave you all with something I said to his family and friends:                         

“There are people in the world who live by example. And then there are those who set them.”

Senator Mazza set the example – with decency, compassion, and humor.

Today, you have all earned something that allows you to be that person as well: the one who sets the example.

And I have a lot of faith, you’ll do just that.

Thank you again, and congratulations.