Dr. William E. Trueheart Gives Commencement Speech at Miami Dade College Medical Campus

Dr. William E. Trueheart, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, was awarded an honorary degree at Miami Dade College on May 2, 2015, where he delivered the commencement speech to graduates of the medical campus. Below is the transcript of his speech.


Thank you, Ms. Romaniuk, for your generous introduction. And thank you Dr. Padron and Dr. Ferrer for inviting me to speak with you all today.

Good afternoon – Trustees, faculty, administrators, staff, families and friends, and, of course, the Miami Dade Medical Class of 2015!

Class of 2015: I’m especially honored to be here with you at your distinguished college at this defining moment in your lives – and frankly, I must admit that I struggled in thinking about what I might say to you today. Why? Because you are not average, ordinary college graduates!

You’re really extraordinary folks. Many of you are the first in your families to attend college. Many of you have raised children and held full time jobs. As I heard earlier about your colleague, Mr. Kim Braswell! And all of you have persevered while taking challenging course loads. I thought long and hard about what I could say that you don’t already know about succeeding against tough odds. So I came up with a few things that you might not know and decided to underscore a few things that I want to urge you to continue remember and hone going forward.

I’m a data guy. So I’d like to start with the number 15. That is the number of jobs on average that you will hold in your lifetime if you’re a millennial, meaning that you are now 18 to 38 years old, as most of you are. Now that’s a lot of jobs. And that means lots of change -- especially in the health care industry. And as populations age, the world’s healthcare systems won't be able to optimally serve the millions who will need increasing care unless they are substantially transformed.

So I'd like to talk about three competencies I think you will need to manage transformation effectively. First is the ability to adapt and to learn to effectively manage change. Second is confronting your weaknesses. And third is to underscore the importance of giving back to those who need your talents.

Adaptability. Humility. Service.

That said, I know you wouldn’t be here today if you didn't have these competencies, in large measure, already. But with the massive scale of changes coming your way, I think continuing to cultivate these competencies will be critical to your continued success.

Let’s start with adaptability. Looking back at my career, I’ve been called a lot of different names – some of them actually were good names! Tutor. Small businessman. Director. Dean. Professor. Mentor. College president. Foundation president. Company Director. University Trustee. President & CEO. My point here is that having a successful career turns importantly on one’s ability to keep trying new things -- In new settings, with new colleagues, with new rules.

Which brings me to my second point: Given the number and magnitude of changes you will experience, you need to determine how you can be sure that you’re doing more than just changing jobs? You need to become confident that underneath the new settings and new colleagues and ever changing rules, that there’s a consistently developing you – that you’re truly growing? My approach to this challenge has been to consistently confront my weaknesses – by tracing outcomes back to their roots. When you look at your career as a series of causes and effects – and then you connect the dots – you correlate behaviors with results … this allows you to get data on what’s not working and what’s not producing your desired outcomes? Now once you collect and understand those data, then you are enabled to begin to correct your behaviors and strengthen your weaknesses -- Including importantly getting the help you might need to produce the outcomes you want and need for greater success.

Which brings me to point three: as you’re busy adapting and growing and building meaningful, successful careers, your own careers will be enhanced by helping others just as others have helped you ---- Your professors and other academic leaders at Miami Dade; your families, friends, and support systems within and outside the college. And because none of us achieves success on our own, I think it is worth repeating what most of you already know – 90 percent of you already have jobs lined up. That’s extraordinary! And fully 40 percent of the health workers in Dade County are graduates of this campus. This is compelling evidence of superb success! And you and earlier graduates of Miami Dade were successful, in large measure, because this campus genuinely believes that students come first and Miami Dade has created a rich college culture deeply committed to student success, that is cultivated and nurtured by an exceptionally talented group of leaders - Dr. Padron and Dr. Ferrer, both hugely successful and very proud graduates of Miami Dade, and their outstanding administrative colleagues, and excellent faculty. Together they’ve created a rare and rich learning environment in which the lives of hundreds of thousands of graduates have been forever changed. Including each of you.

You are fortunate to have had the opportunity to earn Miami Dade credentials. I am certain that your education at Miami Dade will serve you well throughout your careers. But I must say that with the privilege of becoming a graduate of Miami Dade comes a serious life-long responsibility – that of giving back. While I believe that every person who commits to enhancing her or his education deserves support in reaching his or her educational and career goals. I also believe that each graduate who has received such support has an obligation to help those who will follow. In other words, give back through service to those who will benefit from your talents.

So there you have it – my short recipe for long-term success in a rapidly changing complex world: be adaptable and flexible; be honest with yourself; and give to others what has been given to you. I’m proud of all of you, and eagerly look forward to your continuing success as great world citizens! I wish you good health and happiness in the years ahead. Thank you for listening.

And once again, congratulations!

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