Fuqua Graduates Excel

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fuqua School held their 20th and perhaps chilliest commencement on the Upper School lawn on Friday, May 24. The 39 graduates, who collectively were offered a record $5.2 million in scholarships, received a warm welcome from family and friends despite the chill and wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour.

Middle-Upper School Dean Susan Carden welcomed family and friends and introduced the first of the summa cum laude graduates, Jason Taylor Ellington, who gave the opening prayer.

Salutatorian Tara Kathleen Bauer was next to address the audience.

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“There are many unknowns ahead,” Bauer said. “Each of us will be thrust into situations that test us . . . At these moments the unique relationships we have with others will be our motivation, inspiration and saving grace.”

Valedictorian Pranay Rag Bonagiri added his remarks.

“I would like to leave the Class with two maxims: dream big and live your life the right way,” Bonagiri stated. “Robert Kennedy once said, 'Each time a man stands up for an ideal or strikes out against injustice, he sets forth a tiny ripple of hope.' We are those ripples of hope.”

Presenting the class poem was Heather Eloise Hicks.

Hicks' poem concluded, “Keep in mind what you make of your life is entirely up to you; You are the only one to whom you have something to prove.”

Caroline Houston Wiles presented the “Our Thanks” portion of the program.

“We would like to thank family, friends, faculty and the Farmville community,” Wiles said. “Tonight the story we are celebrating is not only ours, but also yours.”

Giftorian Jake Thomas Jackson announced the class gift – a lectern.

“As the Class of 2013 sails off into the sunset, or in this case gets blown away by the wind, we leave behind a new lectern – one that won't buckle under the weight of words,” Jackson said.

Fuqua School President Ruth S. Murphy, continued the commencement remarks by addressing the Class of 2013.

“To me the number 13 represents uniqueness, an odd number filled with strength,” she stated. “I see uniqueness in the range of your interests, personalities, and talents.”

“This class of 39 students has another incredible accomplishment,” Murphy continued. “They have been offered collectively over $5.2 million in academic scholarships – more than any class before them.”

Fuqua School's president concluded her remarks by introducing the commencement speaker, J. Morgan Anderson, Class of 1983.

“Morgan Anderson is a senior director of operations for Menlo Worldwide Logistics, a division of Con-Way Inc. based in Charlotte, NC,” Murphy informed the graduates. “He supervises 280 employees and 14 customer accounts, including Stanley, Black & Decker, Electrolux, Bosch, and Lennox.”

Anderson began his remarks with the first of three points.

“If you can travel, go see the world, ” he advised the graduates. “I grew up in Buckingham County and attended the University of Richmond. I can tell you as much as I love this place, I had a very limited scope of what the world was all about . . . When you live in a different country you lose that comfort level, but it's a very rewarding experience . . . When you go to different places, you have to deal with currency and food. A few months ago I was in Germany and saw a McDonald's, but I couldn't read the menu. You learn to work through these things.”

For his next point the commencement speaker held up his cell phone.

“This is an iPhone,” he said. “I don't work for Apple, but I'm addicted to this thing.”

He went on to explain the iPhone rule in his home.

“We have one rule at our house,” he said. “When we sit down at the dinner table we have to turn these off. As much as I love the iPhone, I think there's a time and place for everything.”

Anderson cited a recent article about iPhones.

“I just read an article that in 2012, 25 percent of those interviewing for jobs were caught tweeting or texting during a job interview,” he noted. “It's probably not the brightest idea in the world. Chances are, they didn't get the jobs. Just make sure you turn the phones off at the right time. There's a time and place for everything.”

For his final point, Anderson referenced a favorite movie; It's a Wonderful Life.

“At the end of the movie George Bailey is in trouble and comes home. Basically the whole town of Bedford Falls is in his house. They know George is in trouble and they're there to help,” the speaker said. “The movie ends with George's brother giving a toast, 'Here's to my brother George, the richest man in town.' That's the third part of what I want to talk about. Seek riches, but remember there's more to life than money.”

Continuing with his point, Anderson cited a book by Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

“Covey talks about emotional bank accounts,” Anderson related. “If you're nice to someone or give someone a compliment you're making a deposit. If you yell at someone or cheat on a test, you make a withdrawal. Covey's premise is that the most effective people have a positive balance in their emotional bank accounts.”

“In five or six years you won't remember if you had an iPhone 4 or 5, but you will remember who was there when you really needed them,” he added.

In conclusion, the speaker asked the Class to think ahead 10 years.

“It's 2023, and you're coming back for a class reunion,” he said. “What will your legacy be?”

“There is a toast I would like to give for the Class of 2013 at their 10 year reunion,” Anderson concluded. “A toast to the Class of 2013 – they were the best, they were the greatest, they did the most. The Class of 2013 had the biggest impact on the most lives.”