“The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.” – Ayn Rand
In my role as an adjunct professor of accounting at Stevens Henager College in Salt Lake City, which traces its roots back to 1891, I had the opportunity to participate in the school’s 2011 graduation exercises. Though my role on Friday evening was small, that isn’t important as this night is reserved for this year’s graduates. The school only confers about five or six business degree from an Associate of Applied Science degree in two disciplines to a Bachelor of Science in three disciplines as well as an MBA.
I didn’t have a large number of my former students graduate on this night. But for me it isn’t about the sheer numbers of graduates but about the lives of the students I was able to influence who will be entering our profession. Most of these graduates aren’t 22 year olds; in fact there are more over 30 or even 35 than there are between the ages of 18-22. Many are single parents, some are even grandparents.
Like many, I sometimes wear my heart on my sleeve. This is particularly true on nights like this. Whether it was during the presentation of the colors by the US Marine Corps color guard, or singing the national anthem, or watching with pride as these students accept the degrees that have just been conferred upon them to allow them to go out into the world and earn a living so that they can provide food and shelter for their families. It doesn’t matter if I have never met that student. Some I have had in my classes, others I know but have not had them in a class and still others I have never met. These students could very well be those who Ayn Rand was referring to when she spoke of climbing the ladder of success.
This year’s commencement address was given by a respected member of the accounting community and former Utah Lieutenant Governor, Val Oveson. Unfortunately, because of my proximity to the podium on stage even with a microphone I heard very little of his speech.