Mark Hawkins told the UCCS graduates to embrace the challenge of changing the world as he delivered the keynote address to more than 550 students and their families at the fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 14 at the Broadmoor World Arena.
“You’re the first generation of leaders who will put social impact at the center of everything you do, every business you create, technology you invent, vision you have. You look at our world and believe it can and should do better. You are impatient to get to work to solve the challenges that face us, impatient with anything that might stand in your way.
“This is what makes your class so important, it’s the energy, optimism, commitment and urgency I feel in this room today, a commitment to let nothing stand in your way of becoming true world problem solvers with measurable impact.”
Hawkins, a 1986 UCCS MBA graduate, thanked the educators, administrators and counselors who motivated him through night school while he worked for Hewlett-Packard. Today, he is the president and chief financial officer of Salesforce, one of the world’s leading software companies.
“It’s wonderful to be back at UCCS. In fact, as you can imagine, returning here to this beautiful campus brings back a ton of memories for me. In many ways, this place contributed significantly to who I am today. I know you will find that to be true in your own lives, now that you are graduating and stepping on to a broader stage.”
Hawkins shared the story of Jake Wood, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who founded Team Rubicon. The organization of more than 100,000 veteran volunteers move into disaster zones to assist with recovery efforts. Hawkins shared the three things of leadership and courage that the graduates could take from Wood’s efforts:
- There is no finish line when it comes to learning.
- Do the right thing, even when nobody’s watching.
- Real leaders don’t go it alone.
“Leadership is built on more than just believing in yourself. It’s about lifting others up and creating a multiplier effect in the process.”
Hawkins spoke to the graduates as the 10th Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. UCCS conferred degrees on more than 1,000 students who completed their academic programs in the summer and fall semesters, and more than 550 participated in the commencement ceremony.