The following is the Commencement Address I gave at the 2012 graduation ceremony for Southern States University:

“Read, Read, Read, Study, Study, Study, Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!”

I would like to acknowledge and thank:

Carmen Tepper, Southern States University Founder
JohnTucker, Chancellor
Stephanie Dieringer, Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer
William Amoke, Dean of Students and Academic Advisors
My esteemed colleagues and fellow faculty members
The administration and staff of Southern States University
Family and Friends in attendance this afternoon
And most of all,
Southern States University 2012 Graduates!

If you have taken any of my classes I am sure you would have heard this mantra many times over; “Read, Read, Read, Study, Study, Study, Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!”
NO!
Party, Party, Party!

Remember those Friday nights when you had a Saturday morning class and your friends were coming over and they were inviting you to the new club that was opening up. But you said, “No party, party, party, I must Read, Read, Read, Study, Study, Study, Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!”

They would say, “But there will be music and dancing.” And you would respond, “No! I must listen to my professor.”

They would say, “There will be cute guys to look at, or hot girls to see.” And you would respond, “No! I must look at my old professor.”

Well, I might be exaggerating a bit but the fact is you are graduating today because you have achieved this success, by working long hours, redoing papers, working on projects, taking exams. Paying attention to what is important, being open to learning new things. It hasn’t been easy.
There have been some tough professors. Let’s take a look at them……they look tough. I would be afraid to take their classes. But you did and through the hard work of reading, studying, preparing and focusing in on what you needed to accomplish you have earned your degree.

It hasn’t been easy, many of you have traveled to this country, away from family and friends, into the strange and foreign culture of the United States, learned English (a difficult language to master), and new educational standards and expectations of learning at a University level. However, because you were willing to read, read, read, study, study, study, prepare, prepare, prepare you were able to overcome those challenges and will now receive your diploma.

I hope that you will frame your diploma and hang it proudly where you will see it every day. Perhaps in the bathroom, right by the mirror, so that as you shave, or put on your make-up it will be right there to remind you of the hard work you have done and the fact that it was achieved by reading, reading, reading, studying, studying, studying, preparing, preparing, preparing, and NO party, party, party.

As you past through these doors as our alumni you are entering a world of business that is facing a very tough economic challenge. Whether you return to your home country, go to some other country, or stay here in the United States the fact is you will encounter a tough business environment. There can be no doubt about that. There is an American idiom which fits well with the business climate you are entering. It is called “The School of Hard Knocks!” This simply means that as you enter this new stage in your life, as a recent graduate, you will find yourself faced with many tough trials that may knock you down, or batter you with difficult problems. I hope you are planning on this, because the odds are that you will face tough times. Success never just falls into someone lap, it doesn’t happen by accident.

Some of you have a vision to start a business and you will need to find scare funding sources, others will be fighting regulatory issues that are blocking your dreams from becoming reality, a few will be bogged down working with personnel and human resource concerns that drain precious time and energy from the fulfillment of your vision. Many will work under someone that they wish would be a better supervisor. Most will experience burn-out at one time or other.

When these things happen, I advise you to take a good hard look at your diploma and let it remind you of what you learned at Southern States University.

And follow that same mantra that you did to be successful here; Read, Read, Read, Study, Study, Study, Prepare, Prepare, Prepare….No party!

This mantra is the edge that you need to get ahead, this is how to find the answer to your business problems, this is what will focus you on the tasks that need to be accomplished, and this is how the answer will be found. How you found success here at Southern States University will be the way you will find success in the business world.

We will be excited to hear your story and we hope you, as our alumni, will keep in contact with us. We know that you will do well, after all, if you can master Moodle then you can do anything!

Finely, I would like to say a word directly to our first graduating class of BBA students. It is important to create goals and benchmarks to help you reach your vision. It seems so often in business that when we reach a goal we simply move on to the next one. However, never forget to celebrate each achievement and milestone.

So…….ok, today you have achieved a pretty significant goal. You have read, read, read, studied, studied, studied, and you are prepared, prepared, prepared! Today…you can party! Just a little!

Come Monday morning…no more partying…you must go right back to Southern States University and sign-up for our Master Degree program! And it’s back to read, read, read, study, study, study, prepare, prepare, prepare….no party. party, party!

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