Speakers advise graduates to innovate, strive for greatness

quinnipiac graduate

May 18, 2014  - Wealth is knowledge.

That was one of the main points Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, expressed in his speech to 603 School of Business and School of Communications students at the morning Undergraduate Commencement ceremony held on the Quadrangle on the Mount Carmel Campus.

"Wealth is the human mind, not physical things like piles of gold, jewelry or even oil," Forbes said. "Oil in and of itself is glop. It was the human mind that turned this glop into something the modern economy can't live without."

Forbes set the inspirational tone, speaking during the first of three ceremonies. John Feal and Andrew Jenks also offered words of wisdom during the afternoon and evening ceremonies, respectively.

Forbes urged the graduates to be patient once they step off the campus and start their careers. "Understand you will make mistakes, but that's how you learn," he said, highlighting the early struggles of Steve Jobs, former co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc., who was fired from his own company before the age of 30. "Twelve years out on his own, he experienced some successes, a lot of failures, but he learned how to become an effective CEO and he became one of the greatest CEOs ever. But it was a painful journey."

Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, told 521 students graduating from the School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing about his own painful journey. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he was called to Lower Manhattan to assist in the cleanup and recovery mission. While supervising his team, his foot was crushed by falling steel and later amputated. He used his experiences to found the FealGood Foundation and lobby the U.S. Congress and the New York State legislature to pass bills protecting those who helped with the post-9/11 recovery efforts.

"Today, when you leave here, you will have the choice to be greater than you ever imagined," Feal said. "You will have the choice to do whatever you want, be whoever you want to be, to create change and create whatever you want. You are now this nation's elite. So chose to be great, and do not settle for anything less."

The morning ceremony also included remarks from Steven C. McSpiritt, a marketing graduate from West Windsor, N.J. In the afternoon ceremony, athletic training graduate Marissa L. Harper, of Glenwood, N.J., offered advice to her fellow graduates.

"We are more than ready to go out into the world and change the lives of our patients, clients and athletes," Harper said. "Quinnipiac has challenged us to be our best in all aspects of our lives over the last four years so that we can be successful today, tomorrow and five years from now."  

The College of Arts and Sciences ceremony at the TD Bank Sports Center capped off the day and included 388 graduates as well as remarks from Jenks, an award-winning filmmaker, and political science and criminal justice graduate Steven J. Pflug of East Brunswick, N.J.

"Tomorrow morning, for the first time in your life, you will be empowered to be as curious as you want to be," Jenks said. "Graduating means you now get to be curious about what you want to explore. It means not taking no for an answer, taking risk and embracing failure." 

In addition, the College of Arts and Sciences conferred its first philosophy degrees to five students, while Noel Kilkenny, the Consul General of Ireland in New York, and his wife, Hanora O'Dea Kilkenny, received honorary degrees for their work preserving and promoting Irish culture and strengthening the ties that connect the U.S. to Ireland as well as their support of Quinnipiac's Ireland's Great Hunger Museum and Ireland's Great Hunger Institute. 

9:30 a.m. ceremony:

2 p.m. ceremony: 6 p.m. ceremony: