May 8, 2009

Commencement speaker invites others to help him give advice to college grads

By John Shaughnessy

After Jim Rogers was invited to give the commencement speech at Marian College on May 9, he made an unusual invitation of his own.

Writing on his Internet blog, Rogers asked people to share their thoughts about what advice he should offer to the 422 students who are graduating this year from the Indianapolis college.

“Commencement addresses are always given, but many are seldom remembered,” wrote Rogers, the president, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of

Duke Energy, a North Carolina-based electric power company that is the largest electricity provider in Indiana. “In cooperation with Marian College, I’m using this tool to obtain advice on what you think I should tell students entering the next chapter of their lives.”

Rogers soon had a wealth of wisdom he could use for the speech that he will give during the college’s commencement beginning at 10 a.m. in the Allen Whitehill Clowes Amphitheater on campus.

Here are some of the insights about life that people shared with him, and hoped he would share with the school’s Class of 2009. (Many of the blog’s contributors didn’t post their names so names aren’t included in this story.)

Don’t leave a doubt about love

“Say ‘I love you’ to the people you love every chance you get. You never know when your number is up, so don’t leave anyone guessing.”

Be careful what you share

“Be careful what you put on YouTube, MySpace, etc. It will appear where you least expect it, like at the rehearsal dinner for your wedding or your 40th birthday.”

Be positive, part one

“As a former Marian College graduate, I understand how scary it can be to walk across the graduation stage, and suddenly be ‘grown up’ and ‘on my own.’ It’s certainly a shock at first. You feel as though you have a million things to do because you’re a college grad now. The next step is to get a job, a house or apartment, and find a way to fully support yourself.

“Finding work in the current economy can certainly be a challenge. Remember to keep a positive attitude and do not be discouraged if you don’t nail your dream job the first trip out of the gates. It sometimes takes a few years before you find work you can really thrive in as an adult.”

Keep an open mind

“I was a genius when I graduated from college and had all the answers. However, the older I get, I find out the less

I know. Every day, I learn something new from someone, somewhere.”

Follow your dreams

“Get started now on what you want to accomplish. It might not seem like it right now, but the years do indeed pass by quickly. Don’t find yourself filled with regret over what you could have done. Don’t let anything stand in your way of accomplishing your dreams.”

Always remember your value

“Above all, realize that the struggles you are facing, most everyone has faced in the past and survived. Always know that even in times of trouble, ‘this too shall pass’ and greater days are yet to come. Keep in contact with college friends, hold strong to faith and family, and remember that whatever challenges the future may hold, you hold worth and value, and you can make tomorrow brighter.”

Be a leader who serves others

“Everyone will have the opportunity to be a leader in their own right, at the right moment and to the right audience. Many in leadership positions overlook the fact that extraordinary leaders serve. Whether the teachings come from the ancient Chinese or Jesus, being a servant leader emphasizes collaboration, trust, empathy and the ethical use of power.”

Embrace change and even failure

“Embrace change, take chances, don’t avoid uncomfortable situations. Early failures can lead to avoidance. You will grow much quicker by embracing these rather than avoiding them. You will open yourself to experiences that could be life changing.”

Be positive, part two

“I have learned that if you lead a positive life anywhere you go, it rubs off on the people around you.”

Keep the faith

“God is what ties it all together. Whatever your beliefs are, faith is important and essential to quality of life in our world. The values at Marian—dignity of the individual, peace and justice, reconciliation and responsible stewardship—are universal to our world. Remember these values as you see the world, live in it, work in it and volunteer in it. Remember them in your relationships. And remember them in faith and acts of faith, and you will find an uncommon peace in life.”

What advice would you give to the Class of 2009? †

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