‘Turn the tide of negativism,’ alumnus tells grads

The largest graduation class in the history of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay received a slice of practical philosophy Saturday’s spring commencement ceremony: Stay positive.

Commencement speaker Steven Taylor, Class of 1979

Commencement speaker Steven Taylor, Class of 1979

Steven Taylor, a 1979 Business Administration graduate who has gone on to impressive achievements as an insurance and financial services professional, community advocate and distinguished alumnus, spoke to an audience of nearly 5,000 at the Kress Events Center.

He told the approximately 700 graduates participating in the ceremony that “nothing good comes from thinking negatively, or not believing in yourself and our society… My challenge to you, the Class of 2010, is to turn the tide of negativism.”

Far from ignoring the realities of a difficult job market, Taylor reached back to his own college days to share inspiration. “In 1979 the job market was on hold and the economy was poor. I was worried, and yet I really felt good about graduation. I knew I was prepared to step forward.”

An Illinois native, Taylor had been recruited to UW-Green Bay to play basketball. With some self-directed humor he opened his presentation by displaying his 30-year-old uniform. But while the uniform might not fit, some of the friendships that were forged around it have lasted a lifetime. He pointed out that Chuck Aslakson, a former UW-Green Bay basketball coach who had convinced him to play for the Phoenix, would later recruit him to join Northwestern Mutual insurance.

That observation led Taylor to offer another piece of upbeat advice: “It goes to show how important relationships are in your life. Make and maintain as many relationships as possible. Relationships are dream makers.”

Taylor closed his speech by reminding students about Dr. Martin Luther King’s final public speech given the night before he died, when King told an audience that he been to the mountain and had seen the Promised Land and knew that we as a people would get to the Promised Land.

“Class of 2010, find your Promised Land, and change the world for the better,” Taylor said. “This is your day. This is your time. Remember to thank everyone who made this day possible for you. I think you for this life changing experience in my own life.”

R. Terry Anderson

I teach English Composition and handle media and marketing for the Institute for Learning Partnership.

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