Larry Straub, DBA, took a risk with his commencement address to graduates Friday, May 6 at the Hartman Arena. Thankfully, it was anything but a tyrannosaurus wreck.
As per tradition, the previous year’s Newman faculty excellence award winner presents the commencement address to the graduating class. Straub was the 2021 winner, so he prepared his commencement speech titled “Confessions of a Reformed Trophy Husband.”
Read on to experience Straub’s memorable speech or watch the video.
Confessions of a Reformed Trophy Husband
(Written by Larry Straub, DBA)
Initially, I would like to thank President Jagger, the Board of Trustees, my fellow educators and staff of Newman University … as well as all of you in attendance for this opportunity to speak to you today.
Just to clarify — the title of my speech, “Confessions of a Reformed Trophy Husband,” has literally nothing to do with the actual speech itself. I just thought the title was kind of catchy.
While I appreciate being selected for this honor, I am not entirely sure why I am up here. There is no way I am one of the best professors at Newman University. I am not sure I am even in the top five on my floor.
I am a trophy husband, though. But the only context that lends to my actual speech is to give you an early indication that I am somewhat delusional and completely out of touch with reality.
But enough about me.
What I would like to do in my limited time as your commencement speaker is provide a few parting lessons before we get you out the door today.
First, I would like to congratulate our students for going through this ceremony, it is an important rite of passage. That being said, I would ask that you have some humility about this day and its meaning. Because as much as it may seem like it, today — this day — is not really about you.
I have taken part in all six of the graduation ceremonies that I have been eligible to be involved with. The reason? This day is much more about your opportunity to show gratitude to all of those who helped get you to this point.
So while you will certainly be cashing the checks, raking in the Bitcoin or gathering the Venmo thingy ma bob do hickeys or whatever it is you are all doing these days, I hope you will reflect and show appreciation for all of those who helped get you to this point — parents, family, teachers, coaches, music and acting instructors — whoever it may be. If not today, someday soon, reach out and show some gratitude and acknowledge their contributions and influences on your life.
Second, buck up and toughen up. Life is and will be challenging. You have all witnessed that firsthand.
After all, you are the COVID generation.
Despite what we like to think or imagine (and maybe even what you have been told) — life’s trajectory is not always going to be up and forward. We are not going to turn this world upside down and inside out just because you graduated and entered the workforce.
In fact, I would encourage all of you to think of your life and career as if they were a rock-climbing wall.
Sometimes the best way (the only way) to get to the top involves going sideways, maybe even backtracking (or going down) before you can eventually move forward and upwards again. You have to be ready for whatever comes your way. You have to be resilient. You have to be adaptable.
Third, own and know how to tell your story.
You all have incredible stories. My wife and I attend a lot of events across campus — music, theater and sports. Many Newman students are involved in various activities.
Know how to tell your story.
Athletes, I know many of you have had some challenging seasons. You play in one of the toughest conferences at the NCAA Division II level and our programs are many times under-sourced and lack the funding of the bigger public schools.
But I will guarantee you this. When you are out for your job searches they will not be asking about your win-loss record. They will ask you questions like this:
- Tell me about a time when you were tested and persevered.
- Tell me about a time when you were part of a team and the team was tested and you persevered.
- Tell me about a time when you had to play a supporting role for the betterment of your team or group. How did you handle that?
Wow — what stories you will have to tell!
Everything that has led to the excellence and accomplishments of your talents and crafts. Not to mention incredible video footage (along the way) to further illustrate your achievements.
To the Sloppy Joes, our improv comedy troupe, not all of your jokes were successful, some may have even be complete duds … nada … nothing … crickets.
To our nontraditional and full-time students, I know personally that many of you have balanced (precariously at times) full-time school, work and family obligations.
Wow — what incredible stories you will have to tell!
In a world that seems lost and many times without meaning, your educational journey has been about and been guided by experiences and people of faith, conviction and integrity.
Own your story, understand it for the incredible journey it has been while here at Newman University, but most importantly, know how to tell it and know how to sell it.
Finally, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Remember this important lesson: “The more you can laugh at yourself the less you will leave to others.”
The more education you get, the more humility you should feel. If that is not the case, you’re not doing it right. Because no matter how much you learn, how many degrees you get, you will never learn more than a sliver of what there is to know.
I tell my students: There are numerous reasons we (as faculty and staff) do what we do. But there is also one glaring reason we don’t do what we do. What we are not in this for is to create a bunch of individuals that think they are better than everyone else because they have a few extra letters behind their name.
At Newman University we want to create graduates that have the ambition, humility and passion to take what they have learned and go out and positively impact and inspire people.
Education is and should be about taking the knowledge you have gained to help lift all of those in your sphere of influence.
I want to give a nod to an incredible individual and example of the humility, grace and dedication that I have referred to: the 2021 winner of our staff excellence award, Celina Marchetti.
She has been a dedicated member of the Newman staff for over 20 years and I hear countless stories each year from students and others in regards to how she has positively impacted their lives.
She is an incredible person and role model for our community, and best of all, has the heart and soul of a teacher.
Wow — what blessings, what incredible stories we have to tell!
So that’s it.
My parting hope and wish for all of you, our Newman University 2022 graduates, is that you will leave here today and do your part to transform society and positively impact all of those around you.
But while you are packing in the coming weeks and getting ready for the next stage of your lives, don’t forget to pack your humility, your gratitude and most importantly don’t forget to pack your sense of humor. This can be a very important tool, especially for serious and important occasions such as this.
Thank you and God bless!