Tiffin University's commencement speaker encouraged graduates to take time to consider what they want from their one precious life, move to where the action is and swing for the fences.
"Take a chance," said Christopher Michel, an entrepreneur, investor, author and photographer.
Michel, who founded www.Military.com, created Affinity Labs and leads Nautilus Ventures, a seed venture fund, delivered the keynote address during TU's 124th commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon. Previously, TU has had two separate ceremonies because of limited space in Gillmor Student Center. This year, TU had one ceremony in Heminger Center, which was dedicated Friday.
PHOTO BY ROB LEDWEDGE
Dave and Charlotte Funk, parents of Taylor Funk, who died in January, accept her degree from Charles Christensen, Tiffin University vice president for academic affairs, Saturday afternoon.
About 80 people completed associate's degrees, about 485 completed bachelor's degrees and more than 425 completed master's degrees. Susan Salter, a Maryland resident who completed an organizational management degree, won the dean's award.
Michel, who received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, shared ideas he said he believed had the potential to change graduates' lives in the way they had changed his life. He said everyone is an entrepreneur of his or her own life. Not all rules deserve to be followed, he said.
"Great leaders challenge themselves and others," he said.
Michel said confidence is a choice. People go to remarkable lengths not to fail, and most overstate the risk of failure. Without risk, there is no gain, he said.
"Confidence and ethics are everything," he said.
Prior to the ceremony, Michel said all people are products of their own experiences. People who were most successful are those who had sufficient confidence to go take a chance. It is not about how smart they were or what connections they had, he said.
Michel, a Navy veteran, spends six or seven months a year meeting with people and discussing their ideas about starting a company. He spends the rest of his time traveling and taking photographs. He said he has an opportunity to connect with people and tell their stories with photography.
"I love to create. ... Nothing is as rewarding as creating," he said.
During the ceremony, Charles Christensen, vice president for academic affairs, presented Taylor Funk's diploma to her parents, Dave and Charlotte Funk.
Taylor, a 22-year-old West Salem resident who had studied hospitality management, was diagnosed with leukemia Dec. 20 and died Jan. 20, less than four months before commencement. She was set to graduate Saturday but did not return to campus for the spring semester because of her illness.
Christensen said it was with a great deal of sadness and pride TU awarded the bachelor's of business administration degree. Taylor had a 4.0 grade point average and was a joy to be around, he said.
Her parents received a standing ovation as they accepted her degree.