Nancy Brinker speaks at Commencement

May 15, 2010


Graduates were encouraged to face adversity with strength and determination during Bradley University’s 113th Commencement ceremony Saturday at the Peoria Civic Center.

“The path before you won’t be easy and probably won’t move in the straight line you counted on,” President Joanne K. Glasser told nearly 800 graduates at the ceremony. Noting the path may swerve or even take a U-turn, she assured them they can handle whatever lies before them. “You’re not the first generation to face adversity, and you won’t be the first to overcome it.”

Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, delivered the Commencement address after receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

A Peoria native, Brinker told the graduates about the day her sister Susan G. Komen, at the age of 33, called to tell her she had found a lump on her breast. “Life had taken one of those unexpected paths.” After a three-year battle with cancer, Susan died, but not before asking Brinker to promise she would do something to fight breast cancer.

“That promise gave my life purpose,” Brinker said. She met with some friends, and with big ideas and about $200 in a shoebox, she founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Since its inception 28 years ago, the organization has raised $1.5 billion.

Brinker said the University’s founder Lydia Moss Bradley also faced adversity with determination. Describing Mrs. Bradley as a woman of sturdy pioneer stock, she related the story of how the Bradleys had six children, but none lived to adulthood. In addition, her husband Tobias died before Mrs. Bradley was 50 years old. Brinker said Mrs. Bradley turned adversity into a positive and provided for many generations through the founding of Bradley Polytechnic Institute.

180 earn advanced degrees at Graduate School Commencement

President Joanne K. Glasser conferred degrees upon approximately 180 students at Thursday evening’s Graduate School Commencement. The ceremony was held in Bradley University’s Markin Family Student Recreation Center.

Bradley Graduate School alumnus Rajesh Soin MSIE ’71, chairman and chief executive officer of Soin International, delivered the commencement address. Before speaking to the graduates, Soin was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Addressing the graduates, Soin reviewed three key focal points for success in the work world. He advised graduates to be adaptable, to think globally and apply changes in the world to their personal and organizational situations, and to display a positive attitude.

Noting the jobs graduates accept may not be what they expect, Soin said, “You can seize the challenges as opportunities, or you can resign yourself to failure.”

“She understood that while we can’t choose our paths, we can choose our direction,” Brinker said. She told the graduates that dreams are the only things within their control and to never give up on them, no matter what obstacles they might face.

Adversity already is no stranger to some of the graduates. The father of graduate Charlie Lau passed away just a week into Charlie’s college career. Charlie graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and has accepted a position at Commonwealth Edison in Oak Brook. Graduate David Dill had been in the Marines for 191/2 years when he stepped on a land mine while serving in Iraq. David graduated with degrees in history and teacher education and hopes to find a job teaching junior high or high school history.

Whether it was life-changing adversity or the challenge of balancing the demands of term papers, presentations and final exams, the Class of 2010 is prepared. “You’re at the starting gate,” as Brinker said. “The adventure is just beginning.”