Remember the Nobility of Service
Chairman, Texas Tech University Board of Regents
Jerry Turner, Commencement Greeting
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Good morning! On behalf of the Board of Regents of the Texas Tech University System, it is indeed a pleasure to welcome you to the spring 2011 Commencement ceremonies. Let me say a few words about this camouflage stole that some of our graduates and our faculty members are wearing today. We’re introducing this unique stole this year, and it will be worn by those who have served on active duty in the U.S. military or their surviving spouses. And so, if you see someone wearing one of these stoles in the United Spirit Arena, an appropriate response would be, “Thank You for Your Service.”
At Texas Tech University students are our top priority. Accordingly, this is a very important day in the life of our university, and of course we are also mindful, that in the lives of our graduates and their families and friends, this is a landmark occasion. You – the members of the class of 2011 – are to be congratulated for your hard work, commitment, and perseverance. But you – better than I – know that there are others who share the credit for your achievement. And so to our distinguished faculty members seated on the floor, on the platform, or perhaps in the stands, I would like to say: Congratulations, and thank you for a job well done. You have been the teachers, the mentors, the encouragers, the advisers, the counselors, and friends of our graduates and you are entitled to much credit for their success. And as I look in the stands, I want to say to each mom and dad, family member, friend, loved one: Congratulations to you also on a job extremely well done. Your loved one’s success today is the result of your love, guidance, support, encouragement, and prayers over many years. Graduates, please join me in extending your thanks in a round of applause to your family and friends.
But most importantly as I look at you, our graduates, I offer my sincerest congratulations on a job well done. You have now climbed to the top of the mountain and the world lies ahead of you. I only wish I could turn the clock back forty-three years to 1968 when I graduated from Texas Tech and began my career. Not just because there are some changes I would like to make, although there were many mistakes along the way, and not because I want to change my life’s course, but because my trip has been so much fun. I am truly envious of you and what lies ahead.
But obviously, I cannot turn the clock back and start again. So allow me to offer a simple message of advice based upon my experience over these past forty-three years. Advice that, and now listen to this, is 100 percent guaranteed to produce success and happiness. One hundred percent guaranteed! Are you listening? It’s probably only fitting that during this academic occasion I give you this advice in the original Latin used by Cicero when he wrote it more than 2000 years ago. So here it is: “Non nobis solum nati sumus.” What, did you miss that day in Latin class? You didn’t take Latin at all? Well, to the handful of you who don’t understand what Cicero was saying, here is an exact translation: “We are not born for ourselves alone.” In the larger context what Cicero was saying is to give your lives meaning. Don’t allow your lives to waste, living in isolation, or living only for yourselves. Rather, share your lives, your talents, your emotions, your enthusiasm, and yourselves with others, with your families, with your friends, your neighbors, your communities, and our country. This is what gives life meaning and makes life worth living. Service to others is what life is about – helping folks along the way, making the earth a better place to live because you walked upon it.
Now, I fibbed a little earlier when I said following Cicero’s advice was 100 percent guaranteed to produce happiness and success. But of this, I am absolutely certain, you will not enjoy the full measure of happiness and success that is otherwise in store for you unless you live your lives for the benefit of others.
Now my fellow Red Raiders, as you leave this place to continue your life journeys, I encourage you to make your alma mater proud. Make your families proud. Most importantly, make yourselves proud. And as you bear our banners far and wide, don’t ever forget that you’ll always be a part of Texas Tech, and Texas Tech will always be a part of you. May God bless you on your journeys and may God bless Texas Tech University.
About the Author
Jerry Turner is a partner at Andrews Kurth, L.L.P., and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America (public finance law 2005-2011) and Texas Super Lawyers (bonds and government finance law, Texas Monthly, 2004-2011). Mr. Turner has served on the Board of Regents of the Texas Tech University System since 2007 and is its current chairman. This paper is based on his May 13 and 14, 2011, Commencement greetings to Texas Tech University graduates in Lubbock, Texas.