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Jon McBride
More than 3,600 graduates received their diplomas Friday at Weber State University's commencement. Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt was the keynote speaker.

OGDEN — Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt said he knew the decision to join the presidential cabinet was the right one for him, because he "had gone through a deliberate process" to make it.

"Decisions more than circumstances really shape our lives," he told Friday's graduating class of Weber State University students.

Leavitt, who served five-and-a-half years as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush, said going to Washington was a "life-changing decision," much like new graduates will now be asked to make, including jobs, family, marriage or additional schooling for some.

"The ability to make good decisions," he said, "is a refining capacity requiring contemplation and thought."

The "five keys of decision-making," Leavitt said, involve writing it down, shrinking the uncertainties, examining the biases, counseling with others and deciding when to decide. Those steps will lead to much satisfaction and success, he said.

Issac Goeckeritz, a graduate and successful documentary filmmaker, said in a video played during the spring commencement ceremony that "Weber State taught me to do research … to have an interest in the world around me."

He said the knowledge gained from decisions made throughout his college experience have made him the person he is today and given him the tools to succeed.

Before making the decision to step down in his third term as governor, Leavitt said he sketched out a graph of his agenda and realized that "most of what I started was complete."

"An important part of becoming a good decision maker is that you can survive some bad ones," Leavitt said. He said experience is often gained by making bad decisions, and experience breeds good decisions.

"May all your big, life-changing decisions be good ones," he said.

Graduate Paige Naisbitt, 25, said that with her new Master of Taxation degree, "there are so many options." She plans now to study for the Certified Public Accountant exam.

While she will miss the "great professors" and the "focused learning" she experienced at WSU, Naisbitt said "it feels so nice to be done."

Brady Haws, 29, also experienced relief with his graduation. He said he's now more qualified to continue his job as a fire protection engineer with Centerville city.

He said he'd advise college hopefuls and other students "to get it done early. I graduated high school 10 years ago. It's much more difficult when you have a full-time job and a family to provide for," Haws said.

Goeckeritz, Naisbitt and Haws were counted among the more than 3,633 graduates at Weber State on Friday, one of the school's largest-ever graduating classes. An additional 1,311 students received degrees during the WSU's winter commencement in December.

The commencement can be viewed online, following April 29, on Weber's YouTube channel.

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com