Speech of Dr. Philip Zerillo
Faculty students staff and supporters of our graduates that have assembled here today. Today is a great day it is a magical day in which an important milestone in life’s journey has been crossed and another part of the great adventure begins. There is so so very much! for so many, to be proud of!
Personally, this is an exciting day in my life. It is not everyday that one has the opportunity to address such a distinguished group as we have assembled here today.
So, when a time like this comes about, I always pause to reflect in how this moment occurred and how we all came together today.
I could tell you about my upbringing and the lessons I learned from my parents, my brothers and sisters and my teachers. And while those lessons would be something I would enjoy sharing, it may not be the most interesting talk for all of you to hear.
Instead, I would like to take a moment to remember my high school history class. As a kid in the United States we study world history in 10th grade. In the United States, that pretty much means Europe. As I was struggling through my Spanish history lessons I remember reading about the Filipino independence and one name that stood out was that of Jose Rizal.
JOSE RIZAL- was a modern-day Davinci. A medical doctor, painter, poet, essayist, sculptor, drawer and a man who spoke 22 languages. In the short 36 years of his life he made a tremendous impact on the lives of so many. Roughly a century and a half ago, he passed away sparking the independence movements of the Philippines. Through his life and his writings he left a mark on the Philippines that is still being experienced today.
And, nearly 99 years ago Don Vicente Fabella began the university that today bears the name of Jose Rizal.
In the ensuing 99 years, over 100,000 students have crossed the grounds of Jose Rizal University. They have come here to find their dreams. As JRU was, and remains, a place of dreams. It is a place of the future and a place that will continue through it’s graduates to shape the future.
Perhaps Don Vincente Fabella’s contemporary Mahadma
Ghandi said it best – “live as if you will die tomorrow, learn as if you live forever”
What Ghandi knew is what Don Vincent knew, is that education is something that can inspire dreams and make them a reality.
Well, Today is a great day, when inspiration and perspiration have come together to make a significant step in that reality possible. But there are many many people — other than our students —who made this happen.
So As I truly begin this talk let me start by acknowledging those responsible for the accomplishments of today
First, I want the Students to stand and I want you to take a moment to join me in applauding the Faculty of JRU who have taught you your lessons, challenged you to go beyond what you thought you were capable of and served as the compass that gave you direction as you searched you way through the forest of knowledge.
Thank you Faculty
And I want the students to remain standing and thank the administrative Staff here at JRU as they shepherded you through these disciplines and helped you to comply with the higher education authorities, accreditation boards and internal policies.
Thank you staff—
Students please continue to stand. I want you to turn and face the loved ones that gave up their time with you, stood by you as you missed the family dinners, personal dates and slept like you were dead after each final exam period. Thank you to the families, friends, significant others, clergy and even money-lenders that made this possible.
Thank you students you may be seated.
Students, this talk and this day is certainly about the celebration of your accomplishments. And they are truly great. But I also want to warn you that these are just the first steps in the journey ahead.
As you embark upon this journey, if you will allow me to be so bold, let me provide a few rules that I believe will help you on your way. Here are 7 I feel are most important.
1) Use your time wisely. Understand the value of time. It is our most precious resource. The great American essayist Ralph Waldo Emmerson wrote
“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
In my fifty plus years on the planet I have come to realize that time is a harsh measure that waits for no one. Time will be your greatest asset but how you spend it will be your greatest challenge. I have always tried to live by a simple principal—
Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.
Yes! Time and how you spend it is a great challenge
2) Seize the opportunities that exist. Stand at the plate of life and swing your stick mightily! You have prepared yourself these past years for the opportunity to do so.
Michael Jordan may have been the greatest basketball payer of all-time . He scored more than 32,000 points. But I can assure you 100 % of the shots he did not take did not go in the basket.
So – Take your shots! And if they don’t work learn from your mistakes and fire again! Great accomplishments seldom come without the strength to challenge what has been held to be the status quo. Do Great Things and leave your mark.
As we talk about Michael Jordan we all remember his jumpers over Craig Ehlo that eliminated the Cavaliers or when he made the winning shot against the Utah Jazz to win the NBA title or his success in leading the Tarheels over Georgetown in the NCAA. Yes— he was great! Fantastic! But what we fail to realize is that while he scored over 32,000 points he missed more than half of his shots.
SO: Make your successes fabulous, a few missed shots along the way are just part of the game! Strikeouts happen to the best of them.
3) Never limit your dreams. You can be whatever you want to be. Expect to succeed and expect to achieve. I have found that it is very rare that an individual exceeds his own expectations. Have great expectations and put forth the effort to achieve them. I believe that success is the intersection of talent, preparation and perspiration!
4) Surround yourself with people that exude energy.
As I said earlier
Time is finite… energy is limitless
There are people that when you speak to them for a few moments you need to lie down and sleep. There are others that even when you are so tired you can hardly move if you talk to them you are suddenly happy, excited revitalized and planning the future. Make sure you have those people near and seek their council regularly!
5) Always act in a manner that will bring honor to you and those that you love and respect.
The Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen once urged the people of China to understand the importance of their actions: and I quote
“Even when you are alone you should behave as though you are not.”
I want to take a moment here to warn you. This may be the toughest of all of these suggestions. In my career I have watched the selfish actions of a few impact the lives of many. Corporate and accounting scandals that have followed the disclosures of Enron, Worldcom, India’s Satayam Infowave, Lehman brothers, Germany’s Deutsch Bank, or , closer to home, the Legacy Group and the like.
I warned my own students that the effect of these revelations would have dramatic effects on the Capital markets of the United States and the world, and the way in which businesses operate and attract capital. The sum effect of these revelations will not be fully known for many years. But we are starting to feel the first effects of these actions. The actions of the management of ENRON alone has seen more than 40 thousand employees lose their jobs, we have watched as Investors have lost over 300billion dollars in market wealth and those employees that have lost their jobs have watched their retirement picture worsen dramatically. And what of the trading partners and customers of these firms? All of them have suffered ir-repairable damages to their reputations, wealth and existence because of the unethical actions of a few.
The actions of these few have highlighted to me what may be the greatest challenge that you will face. I would like to back up here for a second to share my own understanding of this.
That is: the Challenge of how to act as you lead.
Yes lead. You have achieved something great today and you will do so many great things in the future, but as you move to new heights as coo’s cfo’s ceo’s managers, division heads or company founders you will need to be responsible for many people and their futures. I warn you——-!!! Yes I warn you! You WILL!! have great success but with great success comes GREAT responsibility. You see, I believe that being the boss is not about getting to tell others what to do. No, when you are the boss you are the leader and you are responsible for others.
The American President Abraham Lincoln once said “To test a man let him face adversity— But to truly test a man Give him power.”
6) Understand your Legacy:
Speaking of the late Don Vincente Favella and his vision for this university 100 years ago, and the late great namesake of this university Jose Rizal reminds of the story of the Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole <Paraphrased> “it is the story of a man who upon his journey came upon a river that he could not cross. As nightfall began to settle he set about the task of building a bridge. A traveller came across him as he tirelessly worked to build the bridge. And asked “old man, why do you work so hard to build a bridge over a river for which you shall never need to pass again.” The man responded, lifted his grey head and said “I do not build this bridge for me, I build it for those who shall follow me in passing this way.”
You see, that is what the esteemed Dr Favella, envisioned 100 years ago as he planned to open this university. He was a bridge builder that had chosen through his generosity to help those that followed him to cross the rivers, which are not always easy to cross. And as you students step across that bridge today, Understand that it was first begun by Don Vincente and carried forward by generations of students faculty and staff. Be sure you continue to build bridges for others and leave your legacy.
7) Remember to be a mentor to the young.
As I prepared for this talk I wanted to see what others were saying about the youth and I happened upon this quote:
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
Not a flattering view— but that was written by Socrates in roughly 400 BC.
You see each generation find the next ungrateful. But don’t fall into this trap. Recognize that the future generations don’t need critics. They need inspiration and they need role models! Critics are easy to be— inspirations take work.
Students, over the coming years you will experience the passage of time, be presented with opportunities and faced with the burden of power and I am confident that you will stand up to the test if you follow the lessons that you have learned here at JRU and you will act in the manner prescribed by Sun Yat SEN—Yes´ always act as though someone is watching and never do things that you would not want your friends, your family, or your business associates to read about on the pages of a newspaper. Act in a manner that will make your children proud and you shall have few regrets!
So to quote Dr Seuss and his book, The Places You Will Go:
“Be on your way there are Places to go!, Oh the places you will go”
Many years from now – and after the numerous successes that you have accomplished —– many of the people in this room will not recall a great deal of what has been said here nor even who the speakers were but what I do hope they will remember is that today was a great day—-a GLORIOUS DAY- yes today is a day in which the lives of the people in this room were changed and when new opportunities and new challenges became possible. For Today your have completed a task which prepares you to do so much.
And as you look ahead I hope that you will recall the lessons you have learned and ply your trade with the determination, ethics and integrity we have seen over the past years of your study. Because if there is one thing I am certain of, it is that — The world in which we all live will be a better place for it.
Congratulations students——– and congratulations to the faculty and staff of JRU and congratulations to the families, and loved ones that are in the audience today you have jointly accomplished a very great task and enabled this talented bunch to reach this milestone!
I am proud of all of you!
And as you leave I personally want to applaud you.
But my applause is a different sound. My applause is not for what you have done, as though the ballet has finished. No—— my applause is one of encouragement as you would applaud for your favorite athletes to encourage them to do what not even they know they are capable of. For you see, you are the players of today and the champions of tomorrow. Be on your Way JRU Graduates of 2018