Texas Tech University

Converging News

May 2018

In this issue of Converging News:


Dean's Note

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Dear CoMC Friends:

The College of Media & Communication was honored by the choice of Mr. Jason Jenkins (Journalism BA '97) as spring 2018 commencement speaker. Mr. Jenkins, you may recall, received an Outstanding Alumni award from CoMC last year and he has never failed to be kind, supportive and empathic with our students. In fact, after the graduation ceremony for undergraduates he came to our reception and spent several hours interacting individually with students and their loved ones. We also felt it was important to share the evocative and impassioned speech that he gave with not just those in physical attendance so this month I've turned over my Dean's column of Converging News to Mr. Jenkins. Please read and be inspired.

David D. Perlmutter

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean

Transcript of Spring 2018 Commencement Speech by Jason Jenkins (Journalism BA '97).

Congratulations graduates. You worked hard and now you are here. Chancellor Duncan, President Schovanec, Provost Galyean, Regents, distinguished faculty, administration, students, and guests, thank you for having me here. It's truly an honor to be here and to give the commencement address to the Class of 2018.

So how did I get here today? I was in a meeting back in March and I received a phone call with an 806 area code. I was fairly surprised and not sure who it was, so I stepped out of the meeting. When I answered, it was the President and he told me he was calling about a commencement speaker. In the short time he said that, I went to PR mode thinking, "I'm shocked Zach Thomas hasn't done one of these yet. Then I thought maybe he wants me to put him in touch with Danny Amendola, Wes Welker, Kris Kocurek or maybe... Jakeem Grant? No, it's Zach Thomas... has to be Zach Thomas."

So when he said that he would like for me to give the commencement speech, I quickly realized that football accolades must not have anything to do with the selection criteria. Like most of you in this room, I had zero tackles, zero interceptions and zero touchdowns for the Red Raiders. The only difference is that I was actually on the team. Well, I think I had two tackles against University of Pacific. I'm not sure that even counts.

I'm still pinching myself for this surreal moment. It's always emotional for me to be back in Lubbock at Texas Tech University... my university... our university. My head and my heart automatically returned back to a time when I was walking past the Double T sign, eating in the University Center, and sitting in those seats; like you. One moment it seems a long time ago, the next moment it feels like yesterday.

Never in a million years when I was sitting in your seat did I dream that I would be standing here. It's been an incredible journey so far. A journey that took me to different geographies... from Lubbock, Texas to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Lehigh University, then to Houston to Texas Southern University, then to the San Francisco 49ers, and then to the Miami Dolphins. I also had the chance to experience Osaka, London, Mexico City and Hawaii through my years in the NFL.

But I am here to tell you that it won't be the geography that marks your journey, it will be the depth of your relationships, the foundation of your values, and the courage of your decisions.

My career and my life so far have been bigger than any of the dreams I had sitting in those chairs. It's because of the people who helped me starting with the love and support of my family; my mother Mary Clay and my father CL Whittington. Thanks to my wife, Elizabeth, and our wonderful kids Liya, Aiden and Sloane.

It's because of my family, friends and countless others with shared values that gave me the courage to make decisions that were at times outside the scope of my dreams or experience.

As a result - it's a cliché - but I don't feel I've ever worked a day in my life, and most days I feel like the luckiest guy around.

The depth of your relationships: Have the humility to accept help and more importantly put yourself in the position to be helped through your relationships. I had a lot of people that invested in my success. They were servant leaders to me without me even realizing it or expecting a reward.

First off were my parents. As a young child, my mother took me to her graduate school classes at Prairie View A&M. This amazing woman sacrificed so much of herself. This is where I got my love of education.

My father was a former professional football player for the Houston Oilers and was a coach. I remember spending late nights on his couch while he was creating game plans as a defensive coordinator at Texas Southern University. Here is where I developed my passion for football. Here at Tech, I remember Dr. Bill Dean. I remember sitting in his office and talking about my career aspirations. I really appreciated the time he spent with me.

The athletic administration at Tech was extremely nurturing, both during my time with the team and working with them as a member of the Black Student Association. An often used quote from Muhammad Ali said that "service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth." Ultimately, you must find a way to serve; independent of your grade point average, degree or upcoming job prospects. You have an obligation and responsibility to help others.

The foundation of your values: Football is a metaphor for life. I owe everything in my life to football. It taught me work ethic, mental and physical toughness, competiveness and how to overcome adversity. It can serve a uniting tool to bring people together of all races, genders, orientations and identities. I went to a predominately African-American high school, Willowridge High School in Missouri City, Texas. For the most part, the first time I was around students and teammates that were a different race than me was here at Tech.

I remember the first time walking into the locker room and being apprehensive, but I quickly found out it didn't matter. We were a team, we were together and nothing mattered except each other and winning games. I made a lot of friends and had a WHOLE LOT OF FUN. Sports brought us together. I've always tried to take those qualities and apply them to my personal and professional life. It's about teamwork and learning other people's stories. It's also about the importance of humanity and giving back. Horace Mann said "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

The courage in your decisions: Life and your career path are tied into the decisions you make. You have to have the courage to follow a path and trust in and believe in yourself. For me it was getting out of my comfort zone and leaving Texas for Pennsylvania to start my career in athletics. I went to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania after one phone interview and didn't know a soul out there. Having the courage to leave my family and friends set me on a path where I was able to make relationships and learn. I would have never had the courage to leave Texas if I would had never left home to attend Texas Tech. You have to trust in something and believe that everything is connected. Always trust and believe in yourself and have a vision for your future. That vision and confidence will carry you when times get tough. You will learn something in your success and more importantly your challenges.

Now that I've talked about me, let me talk about you for a minute. We are living in an important time in history. We are living in a world where technology is changing exponentially. It's not linear. The pace of change we are about to experience is unprecedented in human history. When I was at Texas Tech, we didn't have cell phones let alone social media. There was no e-mail and practically no Internet. That is all just in the last 25 years. We'll experience more change in the next five to 10 years than the last 25. How are you preparing for this tech disruption?

And politically and socially, we are living in a polarized world and in an America that is arguably more polarized than any time since the Civil War. We can't accept this. To some degree, the 140-character cynical, sensational sound byte and the narcissism of social media has corrupted our senses. We are losing our civility, our empathy, and our humanity.

But here is the good news: YOU are the good news. Your generation has the chance to do something historic on behalf of civilization: to relight the torch of liberty and justice that has sustained so many through so much darkness the world over. YOU are smarter, more informed, more tolerant and through your connected relationships more mature and wise than any generation that's come before you. You have values. YOU are not afraid of diversity - and see the good in all. You care about the content of people's character, not superficial labels meant to divide us. YOUR eyes are wide open and you have the courage and power to wake up this great country.

Texas Tech, graduating class of 2018, we believe in you. Be united. Be a continuous learner and have judgment, but more importantly. Be a Red Raider. YOU'VE got the ball and we all believe in you. Now run with it and make us proud! Go Tech!