“Call your mother,” Warner said, as well as dads and siblings and grandparents and other family members who helped make the UVa-Wise commencement possible. “Don’t tweet them, don’t Facebook them,” but “call ’em or go see ’em and thank ’em and tell ’em you love ’em,” he added.
Warner’s other two pieces of advice to the nearly 280 graduates were to dare to take risks and never fear failure and to be engaged as citizens. One obligation of the graduates “is to strive,” he said, “to reach. But also not to be afraid to fail.”
He listed his own risks and fails in life including trying to start a business immediately after his own college graduation with $5,000 and not much else, resulting in a business bankruptcy in six weeks. Then delving into real estate, which at least lasted a bit longer at just six months.
Warner said a big part of what makes America great is the chance to get back up off the mat and try again.
“Only in America (is that more likely than not) and we must make that true for everybody to get one chance, two chances, three chances or as many as it takes to succeed,” he said.
Warner also advised grads to “remember our shared responsibilities to our nation” and get engaged in our communities and country. Warner said he realizes most people “want to throw a shoe at the TV” every time the news puts something political on the screen, “and I want to throw a shoe at the TV, too, and I’m the one who is (often) on it.”
He urged grads to take communications technology with a grain of salt. “A constant bombardment of information is not knowledge,” he said.
Other speakers included UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry and outgoing UVA President Teresa Sullivan. Henry advised grads to “explore and endeavor to make sound choices ... to make the world a better place.”
Sullivan, who retires at the end of June, made note of the structural and other expansions at UVa-Wise since its humble beginnings and noted, “They all had a single beneficiary, and that is you. You are the single greatest investment we can do.”