Honored to Speak at Missouri S&T Commencement Ceremony

Watch the entire speech below

It was an honor beyond words to speak at the Missouri University of Science and Technology graduation ceremonies! Everyone looked awesome out there and should be amazed at their accomplishments. 

When Chancellor Dehghani asked me to inspire more than 1,100 students with my story, I was humbled. However, at 65 years old, my story is about 7,000 days away from being over. So, instead of my story, I focused on the story of the students in the audience, who have about 23,000 days left to evolve into the next wave of innovators and world-changers.

Motivating the minds of the future was a privilege, and I wanted to empower them with words they definitely have heard but may not feel the weight of yet: LIFE IS SHORT. I aimed for them to recognize that every story starts with them, and they should use all of the time they are given to be great adventurers in life. It is equally as important for them to stay healthy, both mentally and physically, and surround themselves with people who bring them up – those who support, encourage, and fight for them endlessly!

I could not recommend Missouri S&T more for its exceptional programs that produce gifted and skillful young minds, including some members of my family and the Clayco team! We at Clayco are thrilled to partner with such a distinguished institution where students receive excellent expertise and resources to reach their full potential. Our most recent efforts to support the school included contributing $2 million for a lab expansion!

The donation helped finish fundraising for the Clayco Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory, which I visited before the graduation ceremony. I enjoyed interacting with some of the students and professors about the exciting work they are doing. Some were working in the laboratory on a 3-D printing model used to make concrete construction building blocks that could potentially be used by the military. It was also great to meet Dr. Joel G. Burken, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, F.AEESP, and Curators’ Distinguished Professor and Chair, who provided a great visit around the lab.

The lab researches next-generation construction materials and methods that will transform how our industry operates in the future of design/build. 

There is immense power in positivity and continuously striving to be the best version of ourselves. This sentiment has rung true throughout the ages, and I hope to see the talented class of 2024 pave the way for our communities to be stronger, healthier, smarter, and more inclusive than ever before. We must keep being adventurers in HOPE and building a smoother path and a strong STORY for generations to come.

The graduates are the architects of tomorrow, and their accomplishments will help cultivate a world with limitless possibilities. I am proud to have been a part of this significant milestone for so many. I shared helpful life lessons that I taught to my children with the audience and graduates to aid them as they navigate the road ahead, and I would like to share some with YOU: 

  • Don’t forget the people who helped you through your teens – those were tough years. 
  • Never lose your sense of humor. Laugh and be funny, especially at your own expense.
  • Don’t take establishment or stuffy people too seriously because they are already doing that for themselves.
  • A little crudeness goes a long way and is sometimes completely necessary. 
  • If you are the smartest, happiest, healthiest, and wealthiest person in the room, don’t tell anyone; they will already know.
  • Smiling and love are expendable; you can give and give and give love and smiles like cash but still have the same amount left at the end of the day.
  • Sing in your car as much as you can, and when you don’t…get help.
  • Give, get, or give up!
  • Charity and seeding those who need a break will pay to your heart and create safety in your life that can be obtained no other way.
  • Value the diversity in families and communities, the Blackness, the Redness, the Kosher, the Christian, and do not tolerate anyone who does not. We are all American!
  • CHOICE is the biggest and best word in the English language. When we fully understand the power and consequences, we can be our best and avoid being our worst.

Take each of these pieces of advice as you see fit, but keep in mind that EVERY minute of every day counts – so HURRY UP EVERY CHANCE YOU GET!

Spring 2024 Commencement Speech: 10 am Ceremony

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