Taking Chances

Published 09.21.2016

Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour

by Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour

President of the College


“If you don’t take a chance, you don’t stand a chance.”

I am not sure who said this. It wasn’t me. I discovered the quote in my reading and found there was some dispute about its source. It might be Oprah. It might be someone else. In any case, it is how I live; it’s how I conduct myself at work and in my personal life.

Courage Before Reward

You might say that chances defined my path in life.  In 1977, the thought of leaving my “city” for a rural community was daunting, but the chance to be the first full-time faculty member of a new dental hygiene program in Williamsport was too great. I could not say no.

When I was offered the chance to be the first head of what is now the School of Health Sciences at Pennsylvania College of Technology, it was, again, too great an opportunity to say no. Fast forward to 1998 and an offer to become Penn College’s first female president – and you have the once-in-a-lifetime chance that I could not pass up.

Each step along the way, each decision to take on a new challenge, came with a risk. Achievement requires us to show courage in the face of the unknown before we can experience any great reward.

Chances are Opportunities

Penn College is all about chances—changing lives, exploring new opportunities and learning new things.  We live by an ideal – degrees that work – that encourages us to take the initiative that is required to create opportunities for the future.

“If we want the world to take a chance on us, we must first be willing to bet on ourselves.”

If we don’t dare, we can’t live up to our full potential.  If we want the world to take a chance on us, we must first be willing to bet on ourselves. Are you willing to put it all on the line … to invest whatever it takes to become the best you can be?

Taking the Right Chances

At this stage in my career, I am happy to invest my time and energy into motivating young people and encouraging them to take chances.

Do not misunderstand. I am not talking about taking part in risky behavior. There are greater “highs” in life than the ones that come from alcohol, drugs, and other misbehaviors that can lead to tragic endings.

I’m suggesting that we push past personal boundaries and comfort levels to experience all that life has to offer. We can explore new worlds in a study abroad opportunity, volunteer and make a difference in our community, offer a hand up to someone in need, try a new hobby, and learn new skills. Those are the kind of chances that can lead to true happiness.

Finding Inspiration & Fully Experiencing Life

I am inspired by the students of Penn College who take chances and find themselves experiencing richer, fuller lives than they ever imagined.

None of us are too old or so established in our position that we can afford to avoid taking the next chance that life presents us. It is through life experience that we become the diverse, complex and beautiful humans that define our society.

Join me in this journey. We all stand a chance when we take a chance. It is time to experience life and embrace our chances with all that we have.