Stephens College December Commencement 2010
College conferred 29 bachelor’s and 22 master’s degrees upon its graduates during the December Commencement
ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela
Raney Wood Hall. A total of 45 graduates participated.
To view all the Commencement photos and order, visit http://recess.zenfolio.com/stephensgraduation
Read this year's commencement speeches:
Jane Hobson Marcus :: Lainey Hughes :: Mandy Trainer
Jane Hobson Marcus '78, keynote speaker
Jane Hobson Marcus ’78 is a senior client partner in Korn/Ferry International’s New York and Chicago offices. She is a member of the Stephens College Board of Trustees.
CEOs, boards of directors …. I’m in front of many senior people in global financial services – everyday….All the big names on Wall Street!
But…when Dianne asked me to give your commencement address – I WAS TERRIFIED!
It took some “self nudging” to get out of my comfort zone and to embrace this as one of the most wonderful experiences of my life so far.
I am honored and humbled to address you today.
Then I thought … My goodness – what will I say?
So… like any “type A” person – I researched commencement addresses and found that most graduates don’t remember WHO their commencement speaker was or WHAT the commencement speaker said!
Some speakers chose to address the parents and loved ones in the audience, but I am choosing the hard way – I’m going to address you – the graduate!
As I started to think about what I’d say, naturally I began to reflect on my experience at Stephens. And then….I’d tear up. So I ask you to bear with me – I may very well get teary eyed!
WHY the lumpy throat? Because I am moved by the opportunities that are in front of you (and that were in front of me 32 years ago) - no matter where you are in your life; you are at a milestone.
My goal for these precious minutes that I get to share with you at such an important time is to…..
Who you are
Where you have been and…
Where you are going.
The Stephens College experience is unique and because of that, you are different.
You are strong, smart, savvy Stephens’s graduates. You are the 177th graduating class from this incredibility special institution.
You are 48 graduates with ages ranging from early 20’s to your 60’s and…
You are graduates with bachelors of arts, bachelors of science, and bachelors of fine arts.
You have earned your masters in business administration, masters in strategic leadership, and masters in education counseling.
Each of you is UNIQUE and each of you has crafted your own experience here at Stephens. You have each chosen a unique path and I applaud you for your decision.
And now, you have achieved a very significant academic and life milestone.
You have demonstrated courage to take a unique path – you have chosen to attend a women’s college and many of you have chosen unique graduate programs.
You have differentiated yourself by attending Stephens.
In life, who you are is a function of your experiences, your education, and your values.
The uniqueness of each of you will shape the choices you make on your journey ahead.
32 years ago, I sat were you are (actually I spent all 4 years living upstairs on the 3rd floor of LRW!)
Stephens allowed me to explore my uniqueness.
Stephens provided a place for me to try on different hats – academically and socially.
Because of this …
I graduated with a sense of confidence and accomplishment.
I didn’t think of limits…
I thought in terms of choices.
I didn’t think in terms of fear…
I thought in terms of adventure and excitement.
Stephens has given you a tool box of skills that adds to the foundation of who you are.
I applaud and celebrate all your hard work and what you have accomplished to get to this point in your life.
Research has shown that self-awareness is a key factor associated with high performance and potential and is an indicator of long term success. Self-awareness appears to be the trait that best explains why some individuals succeed when others flounder.
Know yourself. Use this knowledge to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
What makes ME tick?
What are MY competencies?
How will I continue to grow: interpersonally and professionally?
Your journey is both experiential and spiritual.
The experiential part is your career – what defines you on your resume of achievements – where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
The spiritual part of your journey is your character and values – who you are and how you behave when no one is looking.
One of the things most surprising to me has been how what I thought I wanted and what I thought I would be doing has evolved and changed over the years.
The more I was able to learn about myself, the more comfortable I became in changing directions along my journey.
Now, let me share some of what I’ve learned along the way.
I was not thinking of a career when I went to Stephens. I pursued a bachelors in fine arts because being creative was more fun!
I can still picture my dad shaking his head in disbelief (and probably some fear) thinking “what is she going to do with a BFA in Theatre Arts?” My dad’s worries got me worried too. In my third year, I decided to add a BA in Math to my toolset, so I might have a better chance for employment after Stephens!
My Stephens education allowed me to pursue two completely different aspects of myself – my analytical and my creative side.
Upon graduating from Stephens, I accepted an offer with a fast growing computer company. Computer technology was just taking off, and the industry had few barriers to entry for women. It was a perfect place to start.
Then after 7 years, I realized that I wasn’t very happy. It was a secure job but it was not fulfilling to me. I didn’t like being a little fish in a pond full of cubicles with layers and layers of managers.
It was at that point that I rallied my courage to listen to my inner voice. I decided to quit my job and attend business school.
From the perspective of others, particularly my dad, it appeared to be a crazy and immature move. I gave up solid job security, a good income, benefits and a 401K - to go back to school?!
Well ... I can tell you that this was a major turning point for me – I may not have known what I wanted at that point, but I sure knew what I did not want!
Everyone told me a career in computers would be fantastic – a great opportunity particularly for a young person. But after 7 years, I realized it really wasn’t for me.
From my awareness of what was not working for me, I was motivated to make a change.
I can almost guarantee you that your goals will change throughout your journey – be open to this change.
I then went to Northwestern, a business school known for its marketing prowess, to study marketing. I realized that I did not want to spend my career designing Captain Crunch cereal boxes or selling Crest toothpaste, so I found my way into the Organizational Behavior department and never looked back. This was a much better fit for who I was and for what made me “tick”.
Again, self awareness guided my path.
When it was time to interview for a full time job, I dressed like everyone else in my blue suit and my little bow tie (don’t laugh, it was the 80’s) and interviewed with all the “right” companies. However, I realized something didn’t feel “right”… I didn’t’ want to be “that” (whatever “that” was) ….I didn’t want to have to dress and act like that…I didn’t fit into that “box”.
Once again, I gave myself the freedom to listen to my inner voice and to let my voice (and no one else’s) drive my decisions about my journey.
Now, I have a career that I love. Through all the “zigging” and “zagging” of my 20’s and 30’s, I have built a professional identity that aligns with who I am.
Even now in my 50’s, I continue to check in with my inner voice on who I am and is what I am doing consistent with who I am. And, I continue to make changes along the way. I strongly suspect things will continue to evolve in this and the next stage of my career.
Hopefully, what I’ve learned along the way will be helpful to you.
I encourage you to embrace your journey.
Listen to your inner voice – let it drive your decisions.
Continue to have the courage to listen to your heart and to your soul.
Be authentic – be true to who you are and to your core values.
Align your career, your relationships, your goals, and your friends with who you are.
Allow yourself to be who you want to be – not who you think others want you to be.
Your journey ahead will be full of possibilities and opportunities.
I meet many people in my professional life - smart people who are well prepared with great educations and who work hard.
Unfortunately, given the current economic environment, there are fewer venues for this abundance of human capital to be applied.
The unique times in this changing world require you to differentiate yourself.
Be more than your resume. Be different.
It is the stories behind your resume that make you stand out.
I have a friend named Amy who I met professionally many years ago. I always knew she was successful and I admired her for building a thriving financial advisory business. But what really differentiated Amy in my mind was when she stepped outside of her comfort zone and went on a volunteer trip to Rwanda. Wanting to capture the story of these survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, Amy filmed her experience – interviewing dozens of men and women who have been on their own journey toward re-growth. Amy got out of her “box” – she listened to her heart and her inner voice and had the experience of a lifetime.
What is behind the words, the dates, the jobs – that is what makes a person unique and differentiated.
One of the stories behind my resume is that I’m a competitive ballroom dancer. Ballroom dancing had always been a dream of mine. So, at 50, I decided to pursue this dream – again, the creative part of me. As I said before, it is a person’s story that stands out more than their resume. There have been countless times in business meetings when the discussion turns to a picture someone saw of me dancing that appeared in Pensions and Investments Age (a major trade journey for my industry). I’m good at what I do professionally; however, I am often remembered more for being a competitive ballroom dancer!
I challenge you to look inside yourself…..
What will you do with what you have?
What will be your story?
How will you continue to differentiate yourself?
What will others remember about you?
I decided that it would not be a commencement address if it did not end in giving advice.
There is the obvious advice like…
You are likely to see people again on this journey.
Say please and thank you (and write thank you notes).
Show up on time.
Follow through on your obligations and commitments.
And there is the important advice on a deeper level …..
Know yourself. Discover who you are; find your genius; stay in tune with yourself.
Discover what you love. Keep looking until you find it.
Don’t let the fear of failure rob you of achieving your success.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They already know what you want to become.
Don’t let others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
Be authentic. Be unique. Be yourself.
And so, I end where I started …. which is in celebration of you, the class of 2010.
This is YOUR moment – this is YOUR stage, this is YOUR day!
Along with your family, your friends and the Stephens community, I celebrate all that you have accomplished.
You have reached a significant milestone in your life.
Now … go dig as deep as you have to and rise as high as you can.
Take the foundation you have built at Stephens…..And use it to create your story.
You are your future.
Lainey Hughes, undergraduate representative
Lainey Hughes of Co Mayo, Ireland graduated with a B.F.A. in Digital Filmmaking.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the December commencement. I particularly want to welcome our distinguished alumnae and keynote speaker, Jane Marcus. We are very happy to have her back here with us. Thank you for your inspiring words this morning. As much as it is an honor to speak to you today, this is also the most terrifying moment of my life for many reasons. So please relax, so I can relax. Forget finals, transfer credits, degree check sheets and senior projects. We are here and we made it.
When I found out a little over a month ago that I was meant to keep this speech to a five minute maximum, I simply intended on reading off a short paragraph of other people’s quotes (let’s face it, they have seen further than me) and then go to you guys and give each of you a “Good Game” tap. I figured it would take three minutes in all. Then I realized that I would have to “Good Game” tap all of the faculty, staff, trustees, parents, significant others and friends no matter how awkward it was going to be. Then I had to factor in that someone was going to cry at the poignancy of my gesture. Three and a half hours into the tapping, hi-fiving, hugging and crying, I would have to be wrestled to the ground by Deb Duren and Ann Taliaferro. So, it was readily vetoed.
It is difficult to describe the mixed emotions of a graduation day. Mostly, we are thrilled that today has finally arrived so we can all move to our next port of call, that being real life. There is a tinge of sadness though as this is the last day we will all be together in the same room and even more saddening, this is the last time some of us will see each other. We’ll promise to stay in touch and visit all of the time, but even if we live in the same country, state or city, we’ll all be consumed in our new lives that we’ll never get the chance to drop by every once in a while. We’ll move from friends, to classmates, to a post on a Facebook wall. We don’t do this to each other out of callousness or the fact we don’t want to see the person (well, usually), we do this because we’re a family now and family understands that sometimes, in the pursuit of happiness, we have to let go of one another.
My honesty may seem cold, but most of you haven’t been to the point where, in order to have a better life, you’ve had to uproot yourself and leave your family and friends behind so that you can find happiness. Just like our future selves though, my family understood that leaving them didn’t mean I didn’t want to be with them anymore, it just meant I would have to love and miss them everyday from thousands of miles away. You start out postering your walls with family photos. After a while, it’ll get too difficult to look at pictures from the weddings and birthday parties you missed, seeing all of the smiling faces looking back at you, thinking they are coping well without you. Photos only ever show the outside though and what you‘ll never know is that life for your family isn‘t the same without you, just like life for you isn‘t the same without family. So, I propose that we be the class that stays in touch. The class that means it when we say “let’s have lunch sometime” or “come over to my house for Glee night, just like in the good old days.” The class that looks out for one another. This way, you will never know what it’s like to leave your family and you’ll never have to look at a photo and kick yourself for missing the party. If you ever find yourself missing from a family photo, at least be the one holding the camera.
I came to Stephens alone expecting to stay in my room, do my homework and not make any friends. I was always really good at that and I thought Stephens would be no different. Instead, you guys found out about me, knocked on my door and asked me to be your friend. From thousands of miles apart, our worlds connected and we became a family. By letting me into your Stephens family, you let me into your real-life families. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking me to Sabetha, Kansas, for my first 4th of July, Lake St. Louis for Thanksgiving, ten of the southern states for the Thomas family road trip and a camping trip to my new soul town, Lebanon, MO. Your families are truly mine now.
When I was growing up, I was told a home is where sorrow is divided and joy is multiplied. We ate ice-cream after tough finals; we were company for one another during late night study sessions, and we destroyed evidence when one of us put too much detergent in the washing machine. We cried tears of joy when our nieces and nephews took their first breaths, knowing it hurt that we could not be there to say ‘hello‘. And, we comforted each other as we mourned the last breaths of family and friends, knowing we would never get the chance to say ‘goodbye‘. By teaching me how to make Stephens a home, each of you has made a better woman out of me. I can never repay your hard work, but I can only hope that you noticed that I tried to.
Now for the paragraph of quotes from my original speech. If Buddha was here, he would say: “May every sunrise hold more promise and every sunset hold more peace“. If Dr. Seuss was here, he would say: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.“ If my priest from high school was here today, he would tell you exactly what he told me: “Aim for the moon, because if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars”. How apt it is we land here together today, the brightest and best, the stars of Stephens. I realize I quoted three men, so I decided to also quote a wonderful woman. In 1979 upon receiving her Nobel Peace Prize, this woman was asked how she would promote world peace. Mother Theresa answered, without hesitation, “Go home and love your family.”
I wish all of you the very best of luck, love, health, wealth and happiness. I hope all of your dreams and wishes come true, your ambitions are fulfilled and that you achieve success how ever you define it. Don’t be afraid to answer the knock on the door when you arrive at your new home. Who knows; maybe your new family is waiting for you on the other side. Good game, everyone. As we say at home, “Comhghairdeas agus teigh iad a fhail.” Congratulations and GO GET ‘EM, GUYS!
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Mandy Trainer, graduate representative
Mandy L. Trainer of Derby, Kan., received a Master of Business Administration.
Good Morning! What a great day to be in Columbia! I am truly honored to be with you all this morning and to be graduating from this historic college for the second time in my life. When I was asked to share a few words of my own story, I was immediately excited for the opportunity. The challenge, of course, was what little nugget can I leave with you today that will be the most meaningful and have the most impact?
First off, I can tell you that at 17 years old (I won’t tell you how long ago that was) Stephens College was not even on my radar. As far as I was concerned, I had already made up my mind as to where I would be attending college. In fact, when it first came up I can remember thinking, a women’s college – really? Are you kidding me? Of course, I’m proud to say how wrong I was in my post-secondary predictions.
From the first time I stepped foot on this campus, I was in love. Growing up in a small town in Western Missouri, Stephens offered the right balance for me between big city and small community. At Stephens, I was never just a number, I was a person with a name and more importantly, I was a woman with a name. Stephens not only knew I was destined for greatness, but they taught me how to hold that mirror in front of my face so that I could see it too.
I tell you all of this because a little over four years ago, I was in a very different place, professionally. I was working for a different company in a job that had little chance for upward mobility. And so I knew, it was time to go back to school. I knew I wanted to pursue an MBA, but of course the big question was from where? I had to ask myself, where do I go that is going to help catapult me from job to career? Let me say that again . . . Job to career. I say this because up until that point, I had only had jobs. Up until that point, I was still searching, still trying to decide what I wanted to do.
And so, I set out looking for an MBA program that would be appropriate for me at that particular time in my life. I looked around and considered my options, but to be quite honest I didn’t have to look very far. I wanted a program that would be flexible and a school that I knew would take care of me as a person, as well as a student. A school whose faculty and staff are caring and compassionate and who remember that we aren’t just students, but employees or business owners, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. And so, after careful consideration I happily chose to begin the next chapter in my educational journey with my alma mater, Stephens College.
During the four years that it took me to complete my master’s degree, I left my old job for the promise of a new career with a new company. I continually accepted new positions and new responsibilities with my new employer. My husband and I joyfully welcomed our beautiful son into this world. We bought a new home and over the last year and a half I have maintained a very busy travel schedule.
And so, while I was busily being a wife, mother, employee and student I learned a few things along the way about life.
You see, I am a firm believer that the most important lessons come from outside the classroom whether it is virtual or otherwise. This was true for me while earning my bachelor’s degree and it was equally true while I earned my master’s.
Of all my lessons, most importantly, I learned the ability to prioritize. I’m not necessarily talking about prioritizing a list of tasks, but rather prioritizing your life. For me, while I was juggling all of my responsibilities, I learned that no matter where or what time I start and end my day, I am my husband’s wife and my son’s mother first and foremost. That doesn’t mean I shirk my responsibilities at work or school. I have a very demanding job and there are times when I have to stay late at work or leave town on business. Equally, my education is very important and so there were times when I had to step away to write a paper or complete an assignment. But through all that, no matter what I had going on, I learned to continually remind myself of what is truly important in life. I have found that it is so easy to get caught up in all of our tasks at hand that we can’t see the forest from the trees. And so, for me, when stress is high and the amount of work to do seems insurmountable, I ask myself, do I really have to miss dinner with my family to get this done or if I miss this assignment or turn it in late is it going to be a detrimental impact on my grade?
What this means is that I often get up at 3 AM to finish a project for work or I drive back to the office after my family has gone to bed. I’ve taken vacation time to complete assignments for school and stayed up late in hotel rooms while on business travel to finish homework. However, I sit down to eat dinner with my family almost every night and I tuck my little boy into bed after we read a story – because those things, those moments, are most important to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do professionally and I equally enjoy going to work each day. As my husband loves to remind me, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t a working professional. I am fortunate to work for an amazing company that produces inspirational products. Stephens has given me an exceptional set of tools to do my job well, not only as a business woman, but as a woman in business. In fact, I know that I would not be the woman I am today without Stephens College. However, make no mistake, for all the formal educational training Stephens has given me, nothing will ever replace the lessons she taught me when the books were closed – care, compassion, dedication, honesty, conviction, determination, strength, perseverance and pure, unending love. For those, I am eternally grateful and with those I know I can accomplish anything.
Congratulations Class of 2010!! May all your dreams become reality, may you always find happiness along the way and may you never lose sight what is most important to you!!