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My first awareness of Abdul Razzak Rumane came from simply viewing his name on a list several years ago. As chancellor of Kennedy-Western University, it was my pleasant task to select a student commencement speaker, and at that time, Mr. Rumane was on schedule to graduate. Since his academic department was an area completely separate from mine, I had not encountered him before as a student. I was impressed, however—even sight unseen—to know that he had completed the requirements for his doctoral degree.

The university had a well-established history of providing a quality education to midcareer professionals, and that was long before the Internet became a reality. Of course, the technology, as it was developed and refined, became more and more beneficial. Even so, it takes a special sort of person to undertake, let alone complete, a degree program, especially a graduate degree program at the level of a Ph.D. via distance learning. Suffice it to say, I sensed a positive regard for Mr. Rumane long before I met the man.

When commencement day arrived, I made it a point before the ceremony to greet each of the graduates, provide some brief instructions, and try to allay any anxiety they might have. After all, they had come together as classmates of an unusual sort—long-distance colleagues who had never actually met each other—from all across the United States and beyond. Some brought partners, parents, children, and others to celebrate the achievement of their common goal, but they all came to celebrate.

It was heartwarming to see them congratulate each other. They all knew very well the kinds of sacrifices that resulted in each one’s presence on that auspicious occasion. With the limited time we had together, and continuing through a lovely reception following all of the pomp and circumstance, my initial impression of all those students was definitely confirmed. Mr. Rumane, especially, struck me as a man of hard work and determination, as well as one whose passion and compassion were evident.

He was one who would go further still along the path he had started; he would be one who really tried to make a difference. During the commencement, I was charged with the responsibilities of conducting the ceremony, addressing the graduates, hooding those receiving advanced degrees, and conferring the degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. One bit of wisdom I always tried to impart to the students was the concept of balancing justifiable pride in their accomplishments with humility and gratefulness for the opportunity that was theirs.

My challenge to each group of graduates was always to use their education as a vehicle for service. I told them if ever they were tempted to use it as a weapon to demean or intimidate another person, they might very well be missing the point. On that graduation day, Mr. Rumane became Dr. Rumane. Since that time he has evolved even further toward his dream, and it appears he has taken my advice to heart. As an expert in quality assurance processes, particularly as they apply to the construction industry, Dr. Rumane has become a gatekeeper.