Encouraging graduates to face their biggest fears and overcome challenges are common themes in student speaker remarks at commencement ceremonies.
At the Johnson & Wales University Graduate Studies Commencement, the Class of 2018 witnessed this lesson firsthand as Rhode Island native Marissa Mayo ’16, ’18 MBA, who lives her life with a speech impediment, delivered an inspiring address.
“Although [public speaking] is terrifying, it’s an opportunity for me to overcome a challenge placed in front of me, to grow, and to become a better person,” Mayo said. “I have learned so much during my time here at Johnson & Wales University—from earning my bachelor’s degree, working as a student assistant in the graduate school, to now earning my MBA—growth is an understatement.”
Watch Marissa’s speech: “JWU Made Me Believe in Myself, Because Everyone Here Believed in Me”
Growth is at the core of Johnson & Wales so it was fitting that Laura Freid, EdD, president of Maine College of Art and a member of JWU’s Board of Trustees, was selected as this year’s commencement speaker and one of two honorary degree recipients.
Providence Campus President and Chief Operating Officer Mim L. Runey, LPD, recognized Freid as one of the many individuals who has helped shape JWU into the university it is today. Also honored with an honorary doctorate of business administration was Joseph R. Beretta, president and chief financial officer of Robinson Green Beretta Corp.
Freid left the class inspired with these five life lessons:
- Do not just do something: Sit, think and reflect before you act.
- Pursue what you do every day with passion. You will not feel like you are working; you will feel like you are living a dream.
- Happiness comes as a result of what you do, it’s not something to search for.
- Giving something is sometimes a much better way of finding happiness than getting something.
- While you are working passionately, remember that luck and timing are important factors. While we may be luckier than some people around us, luck will always do better if we are prepared for it.
Before the audience at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center rose to their feet in applause at the conclusion of Mayo’s address, she reminded her 373 fellow graduates to do as she is doing and break out of their comfort zones. “Growth happens during times when you are truly out of your element,” she said. “In these moments, you grow.”
This article originally appeared in the JWU Commencement 2018 issue.