A message to graduating seniors from Chancellor Hawkins

(Photo/Troy University)

Jack Hawkins, Jr., Ph.D., Chancellor


To the members of the Class of 2020: Mission accomplished! Only 7 percent of the world’s population holds the baccalaureate degree, so you are in elite company.

You are earning your degree in unusual times, as the coronavirus epidemic has dominated headlines and cancelled or postponed spring commencement ceremonies across the globe. This is a temporary situation, however, and I urge you to accentuate the positive at this pivotal time in your lives.

Author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Having a personal vision is a powerful thing, and I want each Trojan in the Class of 2020 to visualize a bright future.

But vision without action is simply daydreaming. Despite the uncertainty that grips our nation and world, there are positive actions you can take to ensure your success upon graduation. Here are four:

  1. Use the resources immediately available to you. If you have not secured employment, make good use of our Career Services Center on campus. Our staff stands ready to help you with your next steps.
  2. Take advantage of networking, especially with TROY alumni. Often, it’s the unofficial channels that offer the best chance for success. To that end, I am proud to advise you of a special graduation gift — one year’s free membership in our Alumni Association.
  3. Consider alternatives to entering the job market directly, such as graduate school or military service. Either route will prepare you for even greater success down the road.
  4. Most important — maintain a positive attitude in all that you do. Ninety percent of people who lose their jobs don’t fail because they can’t do the work. It’s their poor attitude that leads to their downfall.

I tell incoming freshman I don’t want them to have a job after they graduate —  perhaps some of you have even heard me say this. I want you to have a cause, which becomes a commitment, and that becomes your career.

And if things don’t work out at first, don’t give up! History is filled with examples of successful men and women who persevered — and won — despite setbacks:

  • Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
  • Oprah Winfrey, the most successful mass-media personality of our generation, was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being “too emotionally invested in her stories.”
  • And Steven Spielberg, the most successful movie director of the last 50 years, was rejected multiple times by the “other Trojans,” the University of Southern California film school.

I know you have what it takes to succeed. Troy University has prepared you for great things, and I look forward to hearing of your success in years to come. Congratulations! I am proud of you!

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