2014 Convocation Address
Mark P. Salsbury '79 President
Salsbury Human Capital Management
Vero Beach, FL
August 25, 2014
Thank you Judy for your kind introduction. I’d also like to thank the faculty, staff, and administration for inviting me to be here with you today...and especially to the students because my message is for you.
When I began to think about what advice I might give you, I realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve been a college student. So I went to my son Michael, a senior in college this year, and asked him to give me some ideas. He came up with his version of “5 tips every new college student needs to know.”
I’d like to begin by sharing these 5 tips with you:
- You’ll make a lot of new friends this year, but the three best friends you’ll make are named Caffeine, Ramen Noodles, and Google.
- The “freshman 15” is real, so think twice before going to Taco Bell at one o’clock in the morning.
- Wikipedia isn’t a credible source to be used in writing a term paper, but it sure is a great place to start.
- More often than not, your clothes will be dirty, but not dirty enough to wash.
- And my personal favorite, which somewhat conflicts with the “freshman 15” tip: Never say no to free food.
Now that I have your attention, my own message for you today is about “Choices” and “Time.”
“The choices you’ll make,” and “how you’ll spend your time.”
These two words, probably more than any others, will determine the quality of your experience here at Utica College.
Now I’m not talking about making “good choices versus bad choices” or “right from wrong.”
The kind of choices I’m referring to relate to the difference between your college experience being “rich and fulfilling” on the one hand, or “tedious and uninspiring” on the other.
So here are four suggestions regarding how can you make the best choices for a rich and fulfilling experience here at UC.
First, focus on the journey, not the results.
Focusing on getting the college degree is what I refer to as a “result.” In life there are many “results” -‐-‐-‐ Will I get this job? Will I get that promotion? These are results.
It would be untrue to say that results aren’t important. They are.
But, if you measure your success according to the results, chances are you’ll eventually be disappointed... because no one, no matter how hard they try, or how talented they are, gets the results they want all the time.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t shoot for the stars. Of course you should. Successful people do.
Rather than focus on the end-‐result though, a much better approach is to concentrate on the journey. The journey is the rewarding part.
Here at UC, the journey is immersing yourself in the college experience, both academically and through participation in student activities.
By embracing the means to the end, you won’t have to worry about the degree. It’ll happen as a by-‐product of your efforts.
Fulfillment and satisfaction create happiness, and this is the reward for making the most of your journey. So focus on the journey, and learn from your wins and losses with a healthy attitude. You’ll be much happier when you’ve reached your destination.
My second recommendation is to make learning a life skill that you become passionate about, ... a skill you can use to deal effectively with the demands and challenges you’ll experience the rest of your life.
Learning shouldn’t be taken for granted. The art of learning is an acquired skill. You can improve your learning capabilities if you have the desire and determination to do so.
If you haven’t yet thought about learning as a skill, or haven’t fully made learning a personal strength, now’s the perfect time to do so.
What if: instead of thinking about learning as a chore or imposition, each learning opportunity was welcomed and embraced as a positive challenge?
The reality is that you’re going to have learning opportunities in school, in your work life, and afterwards in retirement. If you master the art of learning now, it’ll help you not only in college but later on as well.
My third recommendation links with UC’s campus-‐wide theme for this year: “Drivers of Change.” As the theme suggests, the one constant that we can be sure of is change itself.
In order to adapt to change though, you need to be willing and able to change yourself. The change I’m talking about is internal. It’s personal. And a great way to make personal change is to move outside your comfort zone by broadening your personal mindset and outlook.
One way to accomplish this is to get involved in something new right from the start. For some people, it’s not easy to sign up for an activity, but most of the time, it’s all you really need to get started. In my own personal experience, signing up and showing up have always been the hardest part. After that, it seems that everything gets easier. Take the first step by having the courage to sign up and show up.
Just as important, if you want to broaden your outlook, engage with people who are different than you. Seek out people who come from other backgrounds and cultures. There are students here from 45 states and 39 countries, so there are plenty of opportunities to learn from one another.
I’ve found that my perspective has been widened immensely by interacting with people who offer unique ideas that I haven’t thought of. The best ideas come from people who have different points of view, not from people who think alike. That’s how you learn, not by hanging around people who agree with you all the time. So make it a priority to expand your social network in this way. It’ll naturally broaden your mindset and outlook.
My last bit of advice for you is to make sure that giving and gratitude are a part of your character and lifestyle. Giving and being thankful for what you have are not only likable characteristics, but they inspire others around you.
One of the special aspects of Utica College is that it’s a place where student-‐ led activities and volunteer endeavors are ingrained in the culture. The spirit and energy of Utica College is strong because the students who go here get involved.
If you want something to happen, don’t look around for someone else to do it. Figure out what you can do to make it happen.
Starting today you don’t just go to Utica College. You’re now a part of Utica College and the community around you. Represent yourself and your school with Pioneer Pride.
In closing, I wish each and every one of you the best of success and happiness here at Utica College. As you begin your journey, remember, it comes down to choices and time.
Always ask yourself these two questions: “What choices will I make?” and “How will I spend my time?”
If you do this exercise every day, your journey here will be rich and fulfilling, with great memories that you’ll cherish the rest of your lives.