JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University is proud to announce that nearly 700 students received their degrees at the annual spring commencement ceremony today on campus. Keynote speaker Carla A. Harris, managing director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, encouraged graduates to always make choices that will have a positive ripple effect on others.
Harris told the graduates that to maximize their success in life would depend on the following three factors: the choices you make; how you recover from your mistakes; and the view you have of yourself.
“When faced with a choice, always choose the option that will push and stretch you the most,” said Harris. “Choose to be a leader and not let life happen to you.”
Harris also told the graduates that they each have the following three things they can offer the world: their time, their talent and their treasure.
“At different points in your life, you will have more of one over the other,” said Harris. “Regardless, you must always choose to use this in a leadership role that will positively benefit others.”
“When you make a mistake, take the blessing of the lesson and move on,” said Harris. “Failure always brings you a gift. You will know how to do it differently next time. Don't carry the baggage of having made a mistake, embrace the valuable lesson.”
Harris also told the graduates that when they think of themselves, they need to own all of that which is uniquely their own.
“You all have this unique gift,” said Harris. “Nobody can be you the way you can be you. You must have a winner’s lens and dwell in the land of possibility that you will have good outcomes. The more you dwell in possibility; you will naturally migrate in the land of probability of positively affecting others.”
Harris concluded by giving the graduates one more piece of advice.
“Expect to have an extraordinary life,” said Harris. “Your greatness is a part of you and it will continue to grow.”
An honorary doctor of humane letters was also conferred on Harris, who is head of Morgan Stanley’s Emerging Manager Program and also provides investment advice to corporations, public pension plans, foundations and endowments. She was previously responsible for the structuring, marketing and execution of public and private equity financings and has industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial and healthcare sectors.
She is also the author of “Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace,” Harris has been named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America” and to Fortune’s “The Most Influential List” 2005, to Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street,” to Essence Magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who are Shaping the World,” Ebony’s list of “15 Corporate Women at the Top,” The Network Journal’s 2005 list of “25 Most Outstanding Women in Business” and was named “Woman of the Year 2004# by the Harvard University Black Men’s Forum.
Harris received a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, Second Year Honors and an Artium Baccalaureus in economics from Harvard University, magna cum laude. The University will present her with an honorary doctorate in business commerce in recognition of her outstanding career.
The graduates included nearly 550 undergraduates receiving bachelor’s degrees. Of those, 238 were nursing students. Master’s degrees were bestowed on 153 graduate students.
One graduate, Kasey Sousa, was honored with the prestigious Fred B. Noble Medal for Scholarship for achieving a 4.0 grade point average.
The University's Navy ROTC Program commissioned 11 officers. JU's NROTC program also serves students at the University of North Florida and Florida Community College at Jacksonville.
The University also presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters to W. Ash Verlander (1920-2009). Verlander was a member of the JU Board of Trustees from 1968 to 1996 and served as chairman of the Board from 1982 to 1985. He devoted much of his time to fundraise for the University and chaired the University’s Golden Anniversary Campaign committee, which raised more than $16 million. A 53- year resident of Jacksonville, Verlander was one of the founding members of the American Heritage Life Insurance Company, serving as its president for 25 years and then as board chairman until he retired in 1994. The Verlander legacy lives on at JU as his son, Chris, is a member of the Board of Trustees and his grandson, Alan, serves as the athletics director.
TEXT and IMAGE CREDIT: Jacksonville University