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Graduation speaker encourages MU business students to find passion in life

Friday, December 16, 2011 | 6:14 p.m. CST; updated 6:40 p.m. CST, Friday, December 16, 2011
From left, graduation speaker Greg Garrison and Dean of the Trulaske College of Business Joan Gabel lead those gathered in a cheer of "M-I-Z, Z-O-U," on Friday at Hearnes Center. In his speech, Garrison urged graduates to pursue their passions in their professional lives.

COLUMBIA — As Greg Garrison began his address to MU Trulaske College of Business graduates on Friday, he admitted that other alumni would have been more exciting speakers. But with Jon Hamm and Blaine Gabbert unavailable, he said, they would have to settle for a certified public accountant.

And like any good CPA, the vice chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers relied on numbers.

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Running more than 100 graduates through some quick calculations, Garrison came to a rough estimate of 100,000 hours they could expect to work before retirement — about 40 percent of their waking hours during the next four decades. To make those hours less daunting, he offered a simple solution: Find something you're passionate about and make that your job.

"If you're passionate about what you do, you'll be excited about getting up in the morning," Garrison said. "If you are passionate about what you do, you'll be in a great mood when you come home to your family. If you're passionate about what you do, you'll have the energy to chase your kids and to get involved in their lives. If you're passionate about what you do, you'll excel at it, and you'll enjoy the ride."

It's a ride best taken with others, Garrison said. In his "simple but effective recipe for success," he encouraged graduates to not only develop their own personal brands but to also build a "personal board of directors" they can turn to for guidance.

"No matter how skilled and self-confident we are, all of us can benefit from the help of people who have traveled the road we are on," Garrison said. "I would not be where I am today without the guidance and assistance provided to me by my mentor. In any aspect of your life, don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't go it alone."

But the future can wait. Garrison encouraged graduates to enjoy their recent accomplishment.

"The journey we've been on is, in fact, the reward," he said.

Lisa Peterson echoed Garrison's sentiments in her senior address, reflecting on the past as a guide for the future.

"The greatest aspect of college is the journey of self-discovery," Peterson said. "College has served as a time for all of us to learn about the people we really are and who we hope to become in the future."

Graduating senior Aaron Chatman agreed. On a day marking a transition into a new chapter, he, too, reflected on how far he'd come.

"It's been a really good journey," Chatman said. "I've made a lot of friends and learned a lot over the four years. They say it's the best four years of your life for a reason. There are so many memories I'll never forget. It's the best experience of your life."


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