University of North Texas Communication Studies Master's Hooding Ceremony


INTRODUCTION – Thank You & Congratulations

I want first to thank Brian Richardson & and the entire Communication Studies faculty for asking me to come here and speak today. I want to thank my mother and best friend who took the long road to Denton to come out and support me. Construction has been going on here since I left, that’s amazing! (Do we have a completion date??) I also want to thank.  Dr. Allison, Dr. Karen Lain-Anderson, Dr. Brian Lain, Dr. Justin Tredau & Dr. Richardson, forgive me if I left out anyone. You all have a part in who I am today, thank you.  [PAUSE]  

CONGRATULATIONS to you 2018 graduates

Preparing for this speech, I wanted to keep in mind the task was given. I was asked to be upbeat and hopeful. Encourage & Inspire you, to tell you there is a glorious life waiting for you on the other side of your degree [PAUSE]. 

Because you all are not the middle schoolers and high schoolers I usually speak with; I've decided I am just going to give you the information, tell the truth, with a few stories of how, on the back of my degree, I designed, planned, and built the life I have today. 

The complex problem we find ourselves in today is celebrity is worshiped and rewarded. The outrageous is applauded. You all want to create real work in a world that no longer recognizes what is disciplined and profound. Social media pulls you away from study and deep work. Reality television challenges your notions of the real art form of acting and theatre. You will be forced to compete with nepotism and favors, but still, you must tell yourself the work will be worth it.

The Almighty Google says your future career options are these: Media planner, Multimedia specialist, Programme researcher, broadcasting/film/video, Public relations officer, Social media manager, Television producer, Web content manager, so on and so on. But I want to present another option. 

ARGUMENT: You must CREATE! The world will make room for the person you want to become, but you will have to create it. 

Three Points: Have a vision and Begin, Create, create, create; Master self-mastery

#1 [Have a vision & BEGIN]
You must have a vision for your life even if you don't know the plan? You have to have a direction in which you wish to go.  from the philosopher - Oprah [PAUSE]

When I left college my dream was simple – I was going to be Cameron Diaz from the movie Any Given Sunday. My goal was to be first African American woman to own a basketball team because I believed the boys had way too much fun. In the movie, Diaz was strong and courageous. The dream, my dream was born out of that movie, a movie I saw when I was a teenager.  

I was presented with many challenges when I began my career in the sports industry, but one, in particular, stands out.  The first day of my internship we were told if we were going to succeed, land a job we had to sale and sale well. the only problem was, I knew nothing about sales or the sports industry. I just knew I wanted to own a sports team. I did not know where to start but knew I could talk to anyone. Challenge Accepted. I sold to everyone: my mother, her friends and everyone in between. And after the three-month internship ended, I was offered a position on the spot. 

[BEGIN] Begin with where you are and with what you have.

The charge I give you today, wait for NO ONE to do for you, what you are capable of doing for yourself. 

At this point, with your degree, and for some a masters degree at that! You are more than equipped to create the life you want for yourself. [PAUSE] If you don’t see a way into the job or industry you want, create it. If there is not a company that fits your philosophy build it. if you find yourself utterly unhappy at the way life has turned out, and those days will come, reimagine your life. 

No one gave me permission to enter the sports world or dream the dream I had. Nor to be a writer, I gave it to myself first and then I started. [PAUSE] I started writing right where I was. I started writing about the things I loved and cared about. I set a routine, I got up early, I planned out my success. I started living out the person I said I wanted to be and the world adjusted. It made room for me and is making room for the person I am becoming.  

It will do the same for you! 

I saw a video on Facebook earlier this week, a man used a piece of wring to tie the front in of a walking lawnmower, to the back of a golf cart. He hung dice from the top of his creation, and appeared to be having the time of his life. He just invented a riding lawnmower. Genius, I thought. Another thought I had was about us as humans, we are capable of inventing outrageous and workable solutions to our problems when we have had enough; Or like my mother used to say, while raising triplets, when she had enough of our foolishness, she was  “fed up,” My second charge to you all is to be “fed up” and create. Be “fed up” with the news media the outrageous behavior of our elected officials or the way the world asserts itself on you through continuous advertisements. 

#2 - [CREATE] 
I believe You have what you create. Nothing more. Nothing Less.  

I was apart of the building two minor league NBA teams. Days were long and the nights were lonely. I had moved away from the man who is now my husband in pursuit of my dreams. The process was exhausting, but what I learned in the building process no one can take away from me the experience, all the lessons I had learned, the coaching, the teaching. 

I challenged my sales reps to design the life they wanted in the future and start here, laying the foundation for their future careers with this infant organization we were growing. Most of my sales reps were recent graduates, from the city or wealthier areas in upstate New York. That did not matter in our sales office because they needed to learn how to sale. They are necessary to build a client base in the area we operated in. So, I challenged them by who they say they wanted to become. Whether it was a General Manager, Sales Director, Head Coach. I would also remind them, “This is who you SAID want to be, let's create it!”

Be committed. Be willing. Be without fear or hesitation to do the work of creating. In the end, the work and what you produce from your mind, your hands, is all that matters. And it is what you have for yourself. Its what you get to keep for yourself in a world that is changing quickly. 

Post-rationalize - realize as it pertains to your work, there are no mistakes, create, put it out there. If a project makes no makes no noise or does not garner the results you expected, great, go back to the lab and create again. 

When I look out at the world and at what has happened to our political system, the indifference shown towards minorities, the popularity of the Kardashians [PAUSE] I see a world that is different than me, a world that values things that I don't value, a world that is changing, heading in a direction I don’t want to go, I, at times, feel alone, as I am sure some of you do. However, in the early mornings and sometimes late at night, when my phone is down and the television is off, I am reminded the strength that comes in creating.

The responsibility that falls on each of us as individuals with free will to create something. I am reminded as a mentor used to say, “If its to be. it's up to me, and you.” 

#3 [Commit to Self Mastery]
Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his self-mastery.

I realized a few years ago that I would not own a sports team. That dream, that vision had carried me as far as it could take me. I had lived my early 20-something dreams of moving to New York. I met people this culture labels as famous and celebrities, I traveled to Johannesburg Africa, to help with basketball camps and to work with other organizations to build homes and visit orphanages for children with AIDS. I watched my home team win the NBA Championship in 2011. I left no dream unturned. 

But I wanted something more, 

Principle of Priority, states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is essential, and (b) you must do what's important first.

Writing and talking with young people is my heritage. It’s in my roots. My mother did this work, as a Dallas police officer for over 30 years. 

Leaving the confines of these walls a plethora of choices await you. In the creation process, this can go for or against you. 

 Why? because out of your mind, you can create paths for yourself that you never imagined. 

Allow your LIFE to unfold. Allow yourself to risk, to cry, to laugh, to live. 

But remember, Newton's third law of motion is always in effect: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

What you put out you will get back. Master self. Decide what is important to you and do that.

You probably have asked or will ask yourself the big question: What do I want? Who do I want to be? Don't fear these questions. Ask them of yourself often. 

Build a plan for disruption, decide today
A few of borrowed guidelines in my plan: do not at any cost try to fit in, question the status quo, be kind, envision an alternative, be willing to create what you critique. 

As Communication Studies graduates you all are in a distinctive position to explain and communicate the world as it is today in unique ways.

Embrace the opportunity to shape AND tell the story. 

8 years after my graduation the things I know to be true --- service is the only way you secure a life worth living, the game of popularity is unwinnable and even those who excel at it have to give pieces of themselves away, you have what you create, and if you don’t remember anything, remember, love and humility covers all your bases, so live brave. love people. 

Thank you