Noted humanitarian, award-winning and best-selling author, documentary photographer and Navy SEAL Eric Greitens told Utah State University graduates Saturday that they will be at their strongest in life’s journeys when they are serving others.
While speaking to Utah State University’s graduating class of 2012, Greitens told the students to think past themselves and to serve something larger. Life after graduation will give fear and excitement and will also pose many challenges and questions.
“You can endure the ‘how’ if you have the right ‘why’,” Greitens said. “The ‘why’ must always be larger than you.”
Greitens told the students that a degree by itself doesn’t transform them, but that they will be transformed because of the decisions they make and the direction they take in life.
Greitens spoke in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum during USU’s 125th Commencement Ceremony. He presented the commencement address during the program that featured four prominent individuals who received honorary doctorates: Norah Abdullah Al-Faiz, Saudi Arabian vice minister for girls’ education; Quentin L. Cook, former attorney and current member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Lars P. Hansen, world-renowned economist; and U.S. beef industry leader John R. Miller.
USU graduates for the class of 2012 included 3,393 bachelor’s, 947 master’s, 117 doctorate’s and seven educational specialists.
“Life is about getting it right one day at a time,” Greitens said. “You will have to deal with pain, suffering and fear — but with that you will gain wisdom, strength and courage.”
Greitens reminded the graduates that in life there is only one real deadline and that one never knows when it will come.
“Devote yourself to things that are enjoyable to you and meaningful to others,” he said.
Selected as a Rhodes and Truman Scholar, Greitens attended the University of Oxford where he earned a master’s in 1998 and a doctorate in 2000. He attended Naval Officer Candidate School in 2001 and graduated with in February 2002.
As a Navy SEAL, Greitens was deployed four times to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Southeast Asia. He has served as the commander of a Joint Special Operations Task Unit, commander of a Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment and as commander of an al Qaeda Targeting Cell.
After returning from Iraq, Greitens founded The Mission Continues, a non-profit organization that works with wounded and disabled veterans to build new lives as citizen leaders after returning from service.
Greitens currently studies and teaches public service as a senior fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri and in the MBA Program at the Olin School of Business at Washington University.
USU President Stan L. Albrecht addressed the graduating glass and told them he was confident that they will make the university proud of the things they will do in their lives. He also said that the university is on a trajectory toward even-greater distinction.
“We want you to be confident that you will make us proud of the university that is now an important part of who you are,” he said.