JOHNSON CITY – (May 7, 2022) East Tennessee State University conferred degrees to more than 2,000 graduates today during Commencement Exercises at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Michael Ainslie, venture investor and philanthropist and an East Tennessee native, delivered the keynote address during the 10 a.m. event.
“I want to challenge you to think differently about adversity,” Ainslie said to the graduates. “You will face it. Your first job may suck. You may run out of money and feel broke. You may already be there. You will have personal relationships that hit the skids. You may face a medical crisis. I guarantee you will face big time adversity. All of us do. That is just part of life.
“The question is, what will you do about it? Will you become the victim and succumb to the problem, sink into depression or blame your circumstances on others, or will you see it as a moment to grow, to change, to explore new opportunities? The answer will depend largely on your perspective. Is your glass half full? And believe it or not, you control the answer.”
Dr. Kim M. LeDuff, vice president of people and culture at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, addressed graduates at the 2 p.m. ceremony.
“Never forget that in life, the playing field isn’t always even or fair,” LeDuff said. “But we have the power to overcome and achieve whatever we put our mind to. Think of the para athlete who may not have feet to put in running shoes, but still manages to win the marathon! There is great power in the ability to persevere. It is in the most challenging times that we have the greatest opportunities for learning and growth. Use those moments to become the strongest and best version of yourself!”
During the ceremony, ETSU also conferred an honorary doctorate degree to local businessman William B. Greene, Jr. In his presentation of the degree, ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland recognized Greene as an “individual whose countless professional and personal accomplishments have made a significant impact on the lives of ETSU students, faculty and staff, and those we serve.”
Noland added, “It would be difficult to imagine ETSU without his presence and without the programs and buildings for which he provided leadership.”