Using historical examples, and examples from her own life of trying different careers before earning an advanced degree and becoming a teacher, Lindenmeyer explained to the 400 graduates at the summer commencement ceremony in Hooper Eblen Center how education increases the choices in life.
"Slave holders gained passage of state laws that prohibited teaching slaves to read and write because an educated slave was more likely to be a discontented slave," Lindenmeyer said. "Mill workers, anxious to keep new generations of cooperative white workers in their factories, tightly controlled school curriculums. It is a clichut education is power.
"Formal education remains an elusive privilege for most of the world's population," she added. "Only 26 percent of 25-to 29-year-olds in America are college graduates; you have earned this valuable commodity."
Lindenmeyer told of her journey through three years of college and several jobs, including nine years as a department store buyer, before deciding to return to school to study her passion, history. She empathized with older students who had returned to school and shared her thoughts on being successful.
"Whether you choose a career for money, glory, power or convenience, try to also find something in your life for which you have a passion," Lindenmeyer said. "Not everyone can combine what they love with a career. But, finding time for what you love, and sharing it with others, will give you a reason to get out of bed each day.
"And, while money may not bring you happiness, poverty stinks," she added. "If there is anything I believe is the single greatest benefit of living in the United States, it is the ability to reinvent yourself."
Lindenmeyer ended her address by charging graduates to remember their debt to people who had gone before them.
"Few of you have ever seen a television with only 13 channels. For as long as most of you can remember, there has been a woman on the Supreme Court. Life expectancy for you is almost double that for those living only a few years before you were born.
"You, like me, owe those who helped us get to this point in our lives," Lindenmeyer concluded.
Lindenmeyer is a former Tennessee Tech Outstanding Faculty Award winner and author. Her latest book, "A Right to Childhood: The U.S. Children's Bureau and Child Welfare, 1912-1946," was published last year by the University of Illinois Press.
Students graduating from Tennessee Tech this term represented seven other states, 56 Tennessee counties and eight foreign countries. Degrees were awarded in 31 undergraduate fields of study and 15 graduate fields.Since 1915, Tennessee Tech has graduated some 44,000 students.