This past Friday night I had the honor of attending and speaking at The Fayetteville Observer’s annual “40 Under Forty” dinner held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Among the 40 honorees were six individuals with Methodist University degrees, including Malia Kalua Allen ’04, Jasmine Coleman ’05, Jennifer Kirby Fincher ’02, Kamina Fitzgerald ’03, Doris Munoz ’06, and Kimberly Sublett ’11MBA. And this doesn’t include other winners who have roots at Methodist, including Ben Chambers, grandson of long-time trustee Charles Warren, and Meagan McCabe, who formerly worked in MU’s Career Services. As I state’d to the assembled group, it felt like MU had “swept the Oscars” with so many winners in one evening! I am so proud of our graduates who have assumed leadership positions in the greater Fayetteville community.
My message to the audience, and in particular to the 40 young professionals, was similar to the one I share with our students at the beginning of each year. I truly believe that I have the best job in America … for me, and I want our students to aspire to have the best job in America … for them. In looking at the credentials of the honorees, it was clear that they, too, believe they have the best job in America and live their professional and personal lives with such a positive attitude. Therefore, there were at least 41 individuals in the room who believed they had the best job in America, and I challenged the rest of the audience to encourage these young people to continue their quest for excellence.
My second message had to do with finding “The One Thing.” Again, in my opening remarks to new students I talk about finding their “One Thing,” meaning their passion that will inspire them to maximize their experiences during the MU Journey. I note that for each student the “One Thing” will be different, and the key is to try so many things as a part of their quest, because when they finally discover their “One Thing,” it will be transformational and set the stage for a successful MU career and ultimately a life full of meaning and purpose. I end my message to the students by saying that they are my “One Thing,” thereby communicating to them that there is nothing more important to the president of the University than their collegiate success.
The individual inductees of the 2013 Class of 40 Under Forty have unmistakably found their “One Thing.” Their accomplishments, enthusiasm, and passion for what they are doing in their professions and in the community clearly demonstrate that they are transforming this community just as they are transforming their own lives through service to others. Their “One Thing” is the greater Fayetteville community, and I called on everyone assembled for the evening to recognize and support their contributions. This class of 40, the two classes that preceded them, and those that follow represent the greater Fayetteville’s “succession plan.” We will need for their passion to continue and for their volunteer interests to evolve into leadership positions with the many institutions that will benefit from their experiences, perspectives, and drive. For it is people who define institutions, and not institutions that define people, and Fayetteville is in good hands as we look to the future.
My final challenge to the Class of 2013 was to think down the road 20 years hence, at the “60 Under 60” dinner, and try to see themselves in that audience and whether or not they had lived up to their potential and assumed those leadership positions – that their “One Thing” had been realized. I asked them to remember three things from my message: (1) people matter and they are what makes the difference – something this 40 Under Forty Class clearly understands; (2) you can’t do things alone – you need to form partnerships with fellow inductees and others to create a sustainable team approach to address challenges and opportunities; and (3) the best is yet to be.
Yes, I have the best job in America at the best University in America in the best community in America. And if you don’t believe it, I invite you to sit down with members of the graduating MU Class of 2013 or The Fayetteville Observer’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2013. You’ll hear about their “One Thing” and their passion for the Journey.
And yes, the best is yet to be.
Methodist University is fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with The Fayetteville Observer as a community partner. President and Publisher Charles W. Broadwell is a leader in this community and demonstrates daily that his “One Thing” is the people of Fayetteville. Furthermore, he and others from the Observer serve on a number of advisory boards at the University, sharing their passion and expertise that is so beneficial as we strive to provide the very best educational and practical experiences for our students.