"Set the pace for others to follow"
John Clayton Provides Commencement Address for Outdoor Ceremony
It was sure to be a unique commencement address when it included a bass on the stage with the speaker.
John Clayton, multiple Grammy Award-winning artist, arranger, bandleader and educator, spoke to graduates and an estimated 10,000 attendees at the University of Idaho's Moscow commencement on Saturday. He also brought a new "vibe" to the regular address with frequent requests for notes on the bass.
Clayton started his address by noting that it would be an interactive speech. "You get to chime in. And rather than say 'unh-huh' or 'amen,' you'll hear me say 'Can I get a bass note?,' and you'll get to hum said deep and beautiful bass note."
He lauded the graduates' accomplishments and the support of their families, then challenged students to tackle statistics head-on and prove them wrong.
"Those statistics don't know you," he said. "Statistics are statistics, but you are you, and I believe you decide upon which side of the statistic you'll be on. Call me naïve; call me a native Californian. But those statistics don't know you, your focus, your passion, your work ethic, your energy and all that you can bring to this world. Can I get a bass note?"
"I encourage you all to pursue what you passionately desire. You've got the goods, the smarts, the education, the background – now put reticence and hesitation behind you. Go get it," he said.
"Your wisdom, intelligence and work ethic will take you to places that statistics and naysayers can't conceive of. You've spent four or more years here being brought to this level, and now – look out world!" he said.
"I have to confess that my generation did its best. And while some incredible, wonderful things were produced, we screwed up, too," Clayton noted. "We need you to fix, improve, salvage and create the elements that will make this a better world. You need to fight cynicism and obstructions, which slow down your progress and dim your outlook. That's how you use the information and experiences you've absorbed these last years."
He left graduates with these final pointers:
- Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself about what you see.
- Follow your heart
- A means to an end is fine, as long as you can see the end goal.
- Seek the thing you would do if you were to ever grow up. Do that thing, but never grow up.
- Never compare your insides with someone else’s outsides.
- You are allowed one mother, one father and one body. Take care of all 3.
- Do not over-isolate yourself. People give energy. Use their good energy like a car uses fuel.
- Fix it with love.
- Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
"The common denominator for people who succeed is that they never quit," Clayton noted. "When you add this to your knowledge base, not only will you succeed, you will set the pace for others to follow."
Approximately 1,556 students statewide were eligible for graduation this spring, earning a combined 1,638 degrees from the University of Idaho. This year's commencement brings the university's all-time totals to 102,703 graduates and 110,394 degrees.
The weather, which leading up to Saturday had been forecasted for rain and severe thunderstorms, turned out gorgeous for the outdoor ceremony.