THANK YOU CHANCELLOR GEORGE FOR THOSE KIND WORDS. WELCOME TO YOU, THE UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION & FACULTY, ALL THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND OF COURSE A SPECIAL WELCOME TO EACH OF OUR GRADUATES.

THERE ARE ROUGHLY 600 GRADUATES TODAY. EACH OF YOU HAS DEMONSTRATED TO YOUR FAMILY, TO YOUR FRIENDS, TO THOSE WHO DOUBTED YOU, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY TO YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE MADE OF THE RIGHT STUFF AND HAVE EARNED YOUR DEGREE. I CONGRATULATE YOU ON YOUR ACHIEVEMENT.

YOU ARE A SPECIAL GROUP OF HIGH ACHIEVERS.

I LIKE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION SO PLEASE PLAY ALONG WITH ME. EACH OF THE GRADUATES TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOURSELF……..SAY "I LOOK GOOD"……………SAY "I FEEL GOOD"…………..NOW TURN TO THE PERSON ON YOUR RIGHT AND THE PERSON ON YOUR LEFT AND SAY "YOU ARE LUCKY TO BE SITTING NEXT TO ME!"

IN DECEMBER OF 1977, 33 YEARS AGO, I REMEMBER SITTING IN THIS VERY AUDITORIUM. THE FIRST THING I DID WAS FIND MY NAME IN THE LIST OF GRADUATES TO MAKE SURE IT WAS NO DREAM. I ASSURE YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS HAVE LOCATED YOUR NAME ALREADY AND ARE READY TO HOOT & HOLLER WHEN YOUR NAME IS CALLED.

THIS MORNING I'D LIKE TO ASK A FAVOR. I'D LIKE YOU TO REFLECT ON HOW YOU GOT TO THIS SPECIAL DAY.

SO HOW DID YOU GET HERE? CERTAINLY:

  • A LOT OF DISCIPLINE
  • A LOT OF PERSISTENCE
  • AND A LOT OF HARD WORK

I APPLAUD YOUR EFFORTS.

HOWEVER, IN LIFE, WE NEVER REALLY ACHIEVE BIG THINGS ALL ON OUR OWN. WE HAVE HELP ALONG THE WAY. I KNOW I DID, I'M BETTING YOU DID TOO. YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS HAVE SUPPORTED YOU, CARED FOR YOU, PRAYED FOR YOU AND SACRIFICED FOR YOU. WITHOUT THEM BEING THERE FOR YOU, WOULD YOU BE WALKING ACROSS THIS STAGE TODAY? THE UNIVERSITY ADVISORS & FACULTY HAVE TAKEN A SPECIAL INTEREST IN YOUR PROGRESS. THEY HAVE WORKED HARD ON YOUR BEHALF, AND WHEN YOU WALK ACROSS THIS STAGE TODAY, GRINNING FROM EAR TO EAR, THEY TOO WILL BE SHARING IN YOUR SUCCESS.

MY POINT IS.………….NONE OF YOU ARE HERE SOLELY BY YOUR OWN EFFORTS. GRATITUDE FOR THE HELP OF OTHERS AND THE SHOWING OF GENUINE APPRECIATION IS SOMETHING WE COULD ALL BE BETTER AT. WE NEED MORE GRATITUDE AND LESS ATTITUDE.

AS A TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE PAVED THE WAY FOR YOU BEING HERE…. I'D LIKE TO READ MY FAVORITE POEM. IT'S CALLED "THE BRIDGE BUILDER" AND IT GOES LIKE THIS:

The Bridge Builder  

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you a bridge at the eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

Author: Will Allen Dromgoole

DO YOURSELF A BIG FAVOR…….DON'T LET THE SUN GO DOWN WITHOUT SAYING THANK YOU AND HUGGING THOSE WHO HELPED YOU GET TO THIS SPECIAL DAY.

NOW LET'S TAKE A LOOK INTO THE WORLD OUTSIDE OF UMSL AND TOWARDS YOUR FUTURE.

THE NEWS MEDIA WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE THAT THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT IS COMING TO AN END. THE U.S. DEBT IS OUT OF CONTROL. UNEMPLOYMENT IS ALMOST 10%, NO ONE IS HIRING, EUROPE IS ON THE ROCKS, OIL WILL RUIN THE GULF OF MEXICO AND TO TOP IT OFF, THE CARDINALS TRADED LUDWIG!

IT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO STAY IN BED AND PULL THE COVERS UP OVER YOUR HEAD.

OK, HERE ARE A FEW FACTS ABOUT THE ECONOMY THAT MAY HELP YOU FEEL A BIT BETTER……………………..

SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930'S, THE U.S. ECONOMY HAS EXPERIENCE 12 RECESSIONS AND EACH RECESSION HAS BEEN FOLLOWED BY A PERIOD OF RECOVERY AND EXPANSION. AND THIS TIME IS NO DIFFERENT.

THE CURRENT RECESSION BOTTOMED OUT IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2009, THE ECONOMY SHRANK 6%............A YEAR LATER THE ECONOMY GREW ALMOST 3%........THAT 9% POSITIVE SWING IS THE FASTEST TURN AROUND IN THE LAST 50 YEARS.

NOW YOU'LL BE GLAD TO KNOW I LET MY DAUGHTER READ MY EARLIER SPEECH DRAFTS. LOTS OF STATISTICS ABOUT INTEREST RATES, UNEMPLOYMENT RATES, DEBT LEVELS AND TRADE BALANCES WERE CUT. SHE SAID "DAD, IT'S A COMMENCEMENT SPEECH, NOT AN ECONOMICS CLASS."

SHE WAS RIGHT, SO YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO TAKE IT ON FAITH THAT THE U.S. ECONOMY IS INCREDIBLY RESILIENT. YOU HAVE PLENTY OF GOOD REASONS TO BE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE ECONOMY AND YOUR FUTURE.

SPEAKING OF BEING OPTIMISTIC……………DID YOU KNOW VARIOUS STUDIES HAVE SHOWN POSITIVE CORRELATIONS ABOUT OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE:

  • OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE HAVE BETTER HEALTH
  • OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE LIVE LONGER
  • OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE HAVE MORE SUCCESS IN SPORTS AND
  • OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE PERFORM BETTER AT WORK

SO PLEASE, DON'T SEE THE WORLD AS ONE OF SCARCITY AND DOOM & GLOOM. SEE IT AS ONE OF OPPORTUNITY. OPPORTUNITY THAT YOU ARE WELL PREPARED FOR.

SPEAKING OF BEING WELL PREPARED, I HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS.

ON THE GOOD SIDE, YOU HAVE RECEIVED AN EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT EDUCATION AT UMSL. YOU TAKE A SECOND SEAT TO NO ONE IN YOUR ACADEMIC PREPARATION AND READINESS.

I HAVE MORE GOOD NEWS. MANY OF YOU HAVE WORKED YOUR WAY THROUGH SCHOOL. THIS WORK HAS PROVIDED YOU WITH RICH EXPERIENCES. YOU HAVE LEARNED SOCIAL SKILLS AND HOW TO PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS IN THE SANDBOX.

YOUR COMBINATION OF EXCELLENT ACADEMIC PREPARATION WITH REAL WORLD JOB EXPERIENCES HAS MADE YOU A DESIRABLE & SUCCESSFUL EMPLOYEE ACROSS ST. LOUIS. AT EDWARD JONES, WE EMPLOY MORE UM-ST. LOUIS GRADUATES THAN ANY OTHER SCHOOL AND WE HAVE MORE GENERAL PARTNERS WITH AN UMSL DEGREE AS WELL.

MORE THAN 55,000 UMSL GRADUATES LIVE AND WORK ACROSS ST. LOUIS. UMSL GRADS DRIVE ST. LOUIS BUSINESS MORE THAN ANY OTHER UNIVERSITY.

YOU SHOULD ALL BE PROUD OF THE FINE HERITAGE OF UM-ST.LOUIS. I KNOW YOU'LL CONTINUE TO REPRESENT THIS LEGACY WELL.

NOW FOR THE NOT SO GOOD NEWS……………YOUR EDUCATION AT UMSL MAY BE DRAWING TO A CLOSE, BUT YOUR LEARNING IS JUST BEGINNING.

AT EDWARD JONES WE EMBRACE THE 70-20-10 CONCEPT OF LEARNING.

*10% OF LEARNING COMES FROM EDUCATION AND CLASSWORK

*20% COMES FROM PERSONAL FEEDBACK AND MENTOR RELATIONSHIPS

*AND 70% COMES FROM EXPERIENCES AND LEARNING ON THE JOB

SO WHILE THE 10% EDUCATION IS A CRITICAL FOUNDATION, IT IS NOT THE END, IT IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

TO ILLUSTRATE THE VALUE OF CONTINUING TO LEARN, I'D LIKE TO TELL YOU A BRIEF STORY. THE STORY STARTS IN 1959. A YOUNG MAN, DARRYL POPE, CAME OUT OF THE MISSOURI BOOTHEEL WITH A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA LOOKING FOR WORK.

HE WAS HIRED AT EDWARD JONES, THE 38TH EMPLOYEE IN THE HISTORY OF THE FIRM.

1959……THIS WAS BEFORE COMPUTERS SO ALL OF THE CUSTOMER RECORDS WERE KEPT ON 5x7 INDEX CARDS IN PENCIL. AT THE END OF THE MONTH, CUSTOMER STATEMENTS WOULD BE TYPED FROM THE CARDS. AND THIS IS WHERE DARRYL CAME IN. DARRYL WOULD TAKE THE CARDS, A BIG "PINK PEARL" ERASER AND ERASE THE CARDS SO THEY COULD BE USED AGAIN. THE ONLY DECISION DARRYL WAS ALLOWED TO MAKE WAS TO HOLD THE CARD UP TO THE LIGHT, AND, IF IT WAS FULL OF HOLES, HE COULD THROW IT AWAY. THAT WAS DARRYL'S JOB DAY ONE……….BUT IT IS NOT WHERE DARRYL ENDED UP.

HE MOVED ON FROM ERASING CARDS, TO WRITING ON THE CARDS, TO RUNNING THE TRADING DEPARTMENT, HUMAN RESOURCES, OPERATIONS AND SERVICE. DARRYL MOVED UP OVER TIME TO BECOME THE #3 GENERAL PARTNER IN A FIRM OF OVER 25,000 PEOPLE. QUITE A SUCCESS STORY FOR SOMEONE WITH A HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION AND A "PINK PEARL."

DARRYL HIRED ME IN 1981 AND WAS MY MENTOR, TEACHER, GUIDE AND GOOD FRIEND. I ASKED HIM HOW HE ROSE FROM HIS "PINK PEARL" START TO BECOME THE #3 GENERAL PARTNER AT EDWARD JONES.

HE TOLD ME TWO THINGS:

  • I SET OUT TO GET AN "MBA IN THE BROKERAGE BUSINESS." I READ, STUDIED, TALKED TO FOLKS AND WORKED TO LEARN AS MUCH ABOUT THIS BUSINESS AS I COULD. I WANTED TO BECOME AN EXPERT. I KNEW WITH MORE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING I COULD ADD MORE VALUE.

AND

  • I TOOK FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY LEARNING AND MY CAREER. IF IT WAS TO BE, IT WAS UP TO ME.

DARRYL RETIRED IN 2005. HE TAUGHT ME MANY THINGS. THE MOST IMPORTANT WAS HIS EXAMPLE OF LEARNING, STUDYING, DEVELOPING YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE AND ASSUMING FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR CAREER. NO EXCUSES………….NO REGRETS.

SO AS I CLOSE, PLEASE REMEMBER:

  • YOU HAVE ACHIEVED MUCH……………. BE PROUD OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENT
  • YOU HAVE MANY TO SHARE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS WITH…………….... BE GRATEFUL FOR THEIR LOVE & SUPPORT; MORE GRATITUDE, LESS ATTITUDE
  • YOU HAVE MANY OPPORTUNITIES AWAITING YOU……………… BE OPTIMISTIC, GO OUT AND GET 'EM
  • YOUR EDUCATION HAS JUST BEGUN………..NEVER STOP LEARNING
  • YOUR FUTURE IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, DON'T DELEGATE IT AWAY;

NO EXCUSES………NO REGRETS

AND ONE DAY SOON YOU WILL BE THE BRIDGE BUILDER FOR OTHERS. BUILD SOMETHING YOU ARE PROUD OF.

MY CONGRATULATIONS TO EACH OF YOU. THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO BE A PART OF YOUR SPECIAL DAY.