Former AOL CEO Steve Case addressed the McDonough School of Business Class of 2014 in his commencement address Saturday, encouraging them to be bold and embrace the entrepreneurial spirit upon which America was built.
The ceremony, which began at 6 p.m., conferred upon the graduates bachelor’s of science degrees. The top 10 percent of the class was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the national scholastic honor society in the field of business administration, and over 100 graduates received their degrees with Latin honors.
Before his commencement address, Case received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Professor Bill Novelli, the director of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative, read the honorary degree citation, noting Case’s profound influence on the world of business. The Case Foundation donated $100,000 to the Global Social Enterprise Initiative in January, and Case’s wife, Jean Case, is the initiative’s executive-in-residence.
“For his own stunning impact, for his unerringly right passion and for his exemplary perspective on the intersection of the individual, the political and the public, today Georgetown University, with admiration and fraternity, confers on Steven M. Case, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.”
After the address, the Class of 2014 received their diplomas, led by Michael J. Lee (MSB ’14), the valedictorian of the class.
Case began his address by noting how in today’s world, graduates have the opportunity for multiple careers, and their current choices will not necessarily dictate where they find themselves later in life.
He called them to embrace this flexibility by taking risks, and he provided them with three guidelines by which to find success: “The three p’s: people, passion and perseverance,” Case said.
Understanding how to use their relationships to achieve their goals and not wavering in their commitment to those goals, he said, would allow the graduates to obtain success.
“Your ultimate success or failure will largely be determined by how you galvanize others to work with you and stand by you,” Case said.
Case also called on graduates to join in the “third wave” of the Internet.
“Now we’re entering the third wave, where we’re integrating the Internet into everyday life … really reimagining and reinventing education, and health care, and transportation and energy,” he said.
According to Case, this third wave will require two additional p’s: “policy and partnership.” Graduates must understand the ever-changing nature of the landscape that governs the Internet and continue to cooperate with others to be successful in it.
Although the third wave will be more difficult to realize one’s goals in, Case said graduates were already well positioned to achieve because of what they learned at Georgetown.
“You [understand] that government and policy matters and that the social sector also matters. And you likely chose to focus your studies here on business because you believe business can be a force for good. So you’ve got a nice head start,” he said.
Case denoted how America was founded on entrepreneurship, and now as other countries are turning toward it to power their economies, graduates must understand the power of entrepreneurship and ensure that America continues to be a leader.
“Entrepreneurship matters because it has the potential to close the opportunity gap and to genuinely improve the quality of life for everyone, everywhere,” Case said.
Attendees thought the speech provided good advice on how to achieve success.
“I thought it was accurate advice on how to live in our current world and how to succeed in the upcoming one,” Min Lee (COL ’16), a student in attendance, said. “A lot of it was made up of gems of wisdom that … put together makes up pretty invaluable insight.”