Local college grads will hear commencement speakers offer life and career advice this month.
We’re offering them an extra dose here from folks who’ve found success in various vocations and regions of the nation. Many have Terre Haute roots.
— Mark Bennett
• “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. The people that go above and beyond always achieve success. Our country became prosperous thanks to a hard working population. The economic future of the U.S. will be determined by the work ethic of the population. Think big. Work hard and have fun.”
David and Penny Shaw, owners Flying S aviation/beef farming, Palestine, Ill.
• “Graduates in any line of work should cultivate the quality of empathy. Whatever any of us takes on as a vocation, we inevitably deal with other people — sometimes at their best, sometimes not so much. But to do almost any job — doctor, accountant, manager, teacher, business owner, administrator, and, yes, even a lawyer — we should strive to understand others’ viewpoints and circumstances, appreciate the unique characteristics of each person, and most especially treat others with dignity and respect.”
Craig M. McKee, U.S. magistrate, Terre Haute attorney
• “Looking back it’s always easy to say what you should have done differently. However, I really like the path I was and am still on. One of the keys to being in any career is being someone others want to be around. You’d be surprised at how much talent is out there in any field, but if you’re a jerk to work with, or feel you are above certain tasks — especially at the onset of your career — you are cutting your own throat. I took a receptionist job in a music studio right after graduation. I am a singer and a songwriter, so there’s no real “job” waiting for any of us; we have to go through any open door and nudge our way in. I began pouring coffee and answering phones. Most of our clients that came in were ad-agency people who always needed singers or voice talent. Long story short, I landed one of my most lucrative clients with a five-year singing and voice-over contract, and it was the ultimate reason I paid off every college loan, bought a house and quit the desk job. Now, I can say that my main income since ’99 has been singing, writing and voice work and I still love it. Loving the path you are on and carving out a unique path for yourself is the key to being independent and happy. Love what you do. If you find you have majored in something you absolutely hate, don’t be afraid to change your path. Life is short. You can’t please others until you, yourself, are content with the work you do. Best of luck!”
Jennie DeVoe, Indianapolis singer-songwriter-recording artist
• “Education can come from anywhere — your school, the public library, a newspaper — but it all has the same purpose: to remind you how much you don’t know and prod you to fill in a few more blanks.”
John Jakes, author “North and South Trilogy,” former Terre Haute resident
• “Leaving the warmth and apparent safety of life in Terre Haute to go to the Air Force Academy thrust me immediately into the company of incredibly talented, successful and ambitious young people. I didn’t know if I would succeed or fail then, and every new endeavor has presented a similar gulp-inducing realization that this time, these challenges might be too much. But two things stand out as keys to success rather than failure when you take on challenges that look too big for you: first, get absolutely as much education as you possibly can — love learning. Terre Haute kids can learn like the best of them, even though some have pretty fancy educations. You can compete with anybody if you try.
“The second key for me: Make great friends. Once, on my way to my office in the U.S. Senate, I heard a radio interviewee make an observation that has stuck with me throughout my career — he said that success is best achieved by making great friends with talented people and growing old together. It seemed like good advice then, and has certainly been true for me. Whether friends who have huge talents and great success or the charm and wit that come from your oldest buddies, there is nothing more enriching in life than dear friends to enjoy it with.”
Carter Pilcher, chief executive ShortsHD, Terre Haute native
• “As you graduate and begin this new, exciting and sometimes scary venture into the next phase of your life, don’t consume yourself with what you are going to do for the next 50 years. Educate yourself through life experiences while fully preparing yourself to take advantage of long-term career opportunities. Don’t expect to know at 18-22 years old which path in life you will take, but make sure you have the background and preparation to take any path you desire. That way, your options are always open to explore and succeed at whatever you choose.”
Jim Shaw, Rose-Hulman men’s basketball coach
• “Always, in all circumstances, choose to be kind.”
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author “My Stroke of Insight,” Terre Haute native
• “Don’t just settle for a job and a paycheck; search for a calling, for something that engages your whole heart, mind, and imagination. If you make that your aim, you will find yourself in the right place, and will end up doing the best for others; the paycheck will take care of itself.”
Rev. Paul McGlasson, pastor Sullivan First Presbyterian Church, author of “No!”
• “I have found that the best jobs are those that allow you to work in an area that you are passionate about while also allowing you to positively impact others. Regardless of your income, you can be very happy in a job that provides a sense of meaning and purpose. The stories of your impact in the lives of others are what will help you get through those inevitable rough times present in any job. Go out and make a difference in the world!”
Deb Plummer Ringo, CEO YMCA of Clay County Association
• “From a community economic development standpoint, I see the foundation of our efforts beginning anew every morning with each of us gazing into the mirror and evaluating what we see. As an individual seeking gainful employment, would I present a favorable first impression to a potential employer? Specifically, is my attire appropriate for a job interview and the workplace I strive to be a part of? Do I appear on any social media in such a way that could cast a negative light on myself, my family or a potential employer? Is the voice-mail message on my mobile phone (provided to prospective employers) professional in nature or does it sound like a punch line from “Two Broke Girls”? More substantially, do I have the necessary skills/education to compete for a position in the occupation I desire to be a part of? In sum, what can I do as an individual, to prepare myself to become a coveted asset for a potential employer, which in turn will enrich myself and my family for many, many years to come?”
Steve Witt, president Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.
• “In the workplace, school of thought said that if an employee worked hard, was good at his/her job, and the company did well then that employee had a job forever. That is the way it used to be (prior to around 1985) but is no longer. Even if the employee is the best that ever was, the future of that job is always in play.
“Here’s why: (A) The employee’s company may be doing so well that another company wants to acquire them. They want to acquire them for their products, assets, or clientele, not for their employees. This happens every day in almost every business. Company sells and all employees are terminated. (B) The company is doing well but not growing as it once was. Cutbacks in periphery; personnel are let go. (C) Or the employee has progressed in position and salary with 15 years experience and can be replaced by someone with two years experience for much less money than a 15-year vet.
“There no longer is the situation that says one employee is too valuable to lose (this may or may not be a true statement, but management is of the opinion that everyone can be replaced by another person or technology). As new workers enter the workplace, they need to understand that if they do what is expected of them (plus a little extra) they will have a successful working career … in any field. However, the likelihood of working for one company from graduation to retirement is now almost nil.
“That’s why I work for myself.”
Mike Blackwell, president MOCO Inc., Mississippi, Terre Haute native
• “Psychological studies show that the vast majority of people believe they are above average, which of course is not mathematically possible. It’s much more important to have awareness about the skills and areas of your personality where you are BELOW average, than to focus on your strengths. The happiest people I know have created a life that plays to their strengths and surrounded themselves with others who complement their weaknesses.”
Doug Dayhoff, president Upland Brewing Co., Bloomington
• “Some of my best advice came from studying Shakespeare as a junior at Terre Haute South. ‘This above all to thine own self be true’ [from ‘Hamlet’]. So often after graduating we are still trying to fit in, to look like the world wants us to look, but I believe God made us all unique with awesome gifts that are our own. Use your gifts to change the world. Be strong, never give up on hope, and be true to who you were made to be. That is success, no matter what the world says.”
Dave Frey, lead singer Sidewalk Prophets (Fervent Word/Warner Bros. recording artists), Terre Haute native
• “Remember, that there is absolutely no substitute for hard work and determination and get all of the education you can while making education a life long endeavor. Your commitment to self-improvement will open doors your entire life!”
Roger Eddy, Illinois House Representative, 109th District
• “Be open to change. You never know where opportunity will lead you … which is how this future city manager became a screenwriter.”
Jim Fisher, screenwriter, Second City alum, Terre Haute resident
• “Today, young adults focus most of their time and energy on education and work. But they should know that friends and family are much more powerful predictors of their meaning, purpose, and happiness in life than are the degrees and income they acquire. Thus, I would encourage graduating seniors to pay as much attention to cultivating good friends, and finding a good spouse, as they do to their future plans for work and schooling.”
W. Bradford Wilcox, director National Marriage Project, University of Virginia
• “I wish I had asked my elders more questions and paid more attention when they offered their wisdom. But it is never too late to learn and I now know this to be true: you can’t go wrong in life trying your best to love, to be happy and to be grateful.”
Jo Kline Cebuhar, Iowa author “So Grows the Tree: Creating An Ethical Will”