August 2015 Graduation Address by Dr. Albert Okunade

Thank you, Provost Weddle-West, for the great introduction. I would also like to thank President M. David Rudd and the University of Memphis, for this opportunity. Greetings to each member of the platform party and the entire audience. My speech today is:

Hello, graduates! Today is your day! It is a day unlike any in your many great days ahead in a fulfilled life that is uniquely yours. So, "Congratulations, on a job well done!" Today, I join your family, friends, colleagues and other well-wishers in celebrating your hard earned intellectual accomplishments of merit. This is great, but the best is yet to come!

Many have given you great advice and encouragements about career, further education, and other life pursuits. Let's see, how all these coalesce together in defining who you truly are: each of you is a fundamentally unique individual and a "True" Tiger, your alma mater's Mascot symbol of strength. As a "True" Tiger, you are strategically well-positioned and persistent in your zeal to map out, pursue and succeed in accomplishing the future goals that you set. The fact that you are graduating today with your earned degrees is at the very core of being a "True Tiger". Continue this passion for yourselves, families, friends, employers, your alma mater, country and the world. You are the future! Play your part to define and shape it. Rule with humility, dignity and a sense of directed purpose to serve humanity. And always remember the great "True Tiger" that you really are. You represent "Tiger Nation", with Tiger pride poised for continuous improvements and success. Throughout the globe, University of Memphis graduates are winners and champions, as fearless as our mascot, TOM. Tigers rule in their natural habitat. So, go and rule!

As you know, tigers are as unique as you and your name. They resemble each other, but, no two are the same. As scholars, you have Tiger qualities. You are competent leaders with dynamic personalities. Just as a Tiger waits patiently and plans her or his course of action, you now have the skills to analyze situations to make quality decisions. Often, Tigers must leave familiar habitats in search of a new mainstay.

Many of you will venture to different states or return to countries far, far away. Eventually, Tigers adapt to their new homes, just as you will adjust to new places and life's responsibilities to come. Tigers courageously stay the course. As graduates, you have acquired outstanding skills. Your alma mater is a great university known world-wide for high scholastic excellence! So, encourage others to apply for admission, enroll and graduate on time.

Your struggles at the University are bittersweet memories. They are now being replaced by a future of making priceless contributions to society. Today, you embark on new journeys, new careers, as doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, or engineers. Some of you will become accountants, economists, business owners, managers, or analysts. Those of you who are really brave, will become politicians!

You faced many challenges, but you were never alone. Remember those whose shoulders you now stand on. Keep alive and nurture "the Tiger" spirit in your DNA and pass it on to future generations. Always mentor others. As students you fought a Tiger's fight. Today, you begin a new twilight. As a "True Tiger", and to paraphrase in the spirit of U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, "ask not" what others can do for you. Rather, ask how you can make a difference.

From the poem, Tigers, by F. Jordan Brown, I would like to close with these words: "Keep the inspiration that you exuberate, To guide your pathway as you graduate. And wherever you go, whatever you do, Be forever loyal to Tiger blue!"

Thank YOU!