Commencement Speaker Challenges AU Graduates

Commencement Speaker Challenges AU Graduates

5/14/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Hugh Hewitt, a lawyer, law professor and broadcast journalist whose nationally syndicated radio show is heard in more than 120 cities across the United States every weekday afternoon, talked about gratitude during his speech to graduates at Ashland University’s spring commencement ceremony held May 14 in Kates Gymnasium.
In his address titled, “Get On With It,” Hewitt said, “Today is a day for gratitude, not only to your parents, but especially to your parents. I have been a parent at three of these and there comes with it a great joy in seeing your children fulfill such a thing but also a relief of writing no more tuition checks and there are others as well.”

Hewitt said he has heard a score of commencement speeches through the years. “And as a result, I know a few things, one of which is, you can’t be too short in a commencement speech. I want to hit some of the notes that you normally hear in a commencement.”
Hewitt said as he looked back at all the commencement speeches he has heard, he wanted to focus on the three he attended as a parent and is taking the best ideas from each of those and recycling them.

“You have no idea where you are going. But if you are prepared to be prepared, you will love the getting there. So be prepared to be prepared,” he said. “You have no idea whether you will end up with your life down the street in Ashland or far away across the waves somewhere in some great endeavor. But follow that advice and you will be well.”

Hewitt said Julie Andrews was his youngest son’s graduation speaker and her message that day was explicit. “Every single graduate should hear it. Her message was, it is a guarantee that every single one of you will be, to use her words, ‘knocked on your bum, hard. And then the choice will be – will you get up’,” he said.

“Because it is a great day today, a wonderful day for you, your family and your friends and your classmates, your boyfriends and your girlfriends, maybe your spouses. But you have to realize in every life there is a succession of days, and they will line up,” he said. “Today is one of your best days but a worst day is going to come along. And when you are at the end of it, you can say to yourself, wow, I got one of those out of the way, and choose to get up off of your bum and carry on. You get up off that floor and say, that is over, good. Let’s go have another great day, like today.”

Hewitt said that is an important message. “I have heard a lot of commencement speeches but that’s the most important thing I have ever heard. When you get knocked down, it is up to you to decide to get back up.”

Hewitt closed with a few more comments about gratitude.

“I am grateful to be here, but not as grateful as you are to be here because it didn’t take me that long to get here and it took you four or more years to get here,” he said. “But that gratitude, whether it is to God, or to country, or to family and friends, your professors, your coaches, anyone in this room, anyone who is not here or anyone far away who can’t be here…make a mental list of everyone you want to thank…and try to find them today.

“And if you can update that list every few years, you will be living a life worth living if you are involved in the practice of gratitude on a daily basis,” he said. “No one really knows that you are grateful to them until you look them in the eye and put your hands on their shoulders and you say thank you. So, if by the end of today, you find one or more or a score of people to do that to, and express to them the sincere love and gratitude for having gotten you here to this road today, then I will count this speech well delivered.”

Following the commencement address, the presentation of degrees was handled by President Dr. Carlos Campo and Provost Dr. Eun-Woo Chang. A total of 646 degrees (222 graduate and 428 undergraduate) were awarded in the spring 2016 ceremony, including 2 doctor of education, 1 doctor of nursing practice, 104 master of education, 80 master of business administration, 35 master of arts, 76 bachelor of arts, 4 bachelor of music, 115 bachelor of science, 8 bachelor of science in athletic training, 51 bachelor of science in business administration, 88 bachelor of science in education, 72 bachelor of science in nursing, 9 bachelor of science in social work, and 5 associate of arts.

Ashland University recognized co-valedictorians in the spring 2016 class -- Katharine Hurley, an actuarial science major from Ashland; and Olivia Sprague, an intervention specialist - early childhood education major from Fleming, Ohio. The salutatorian was Kelly Crowl, a middle grades education major from North Canton, Ohio.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###