Opening Convocation speaker advises students to 'listen and learn'

HAMPTON, VA – Graduating seniors waited for their final Convocation Sunday at Hampton University. The weather, clear and sunny, seemed as bright as their futures.

When the school marshals finally gave the signal they marched in single file to Ogden Hall, the intimate auditorium that held so many memories.

There Hampton alumnus, healthcare pharmaceutical strategist and co-founder of #HamptonNation, Calvin L. Butts Jr. delivered his keynote address. Butts shared three points with students.

Hard work is never enough. Never settle and be comfortable. Always keep working, Butts said.

Butts has studied university president William R. Harvey's business tactics and advice, which has helped shape Butts to become the leader he is today. Butts was inducted last year to Hampton University's inaugural Alumni Forty Under 40 because of his continuous hard work and determination.

"The person next to you is working hard too. You must be creative and show the world that you are different," he told the students.

Although Butts urged students to work harder than the people around them, he also believes networking is just as important.

"Partnership can be valuable if you choose the right people, but you guys don't have to worry about that here at Hampton," Butts said.

Butts said he relied on those relationships in order to succeed after graduation. One of his many successful LLC's is profitable because he partnered with a former classmate who he viewed as friendly competition.

Butts chose to attend Hampton University because of the people he could meet here. He was convinced to attend after he saw his name on an envelope pasted on the window of the Administration building. When he opened it, he saw that he had been accepted and knew immediately he would accept.

Some seniors in the audience were inspired by Mr. Butts' success.

"One day I will own a real estate agency and hopefully deliver the keynote address at a opening convocation ceremony like Mr. Butts did earlier on today, " said senior finance major Gerald Campbell.

Finally, Butts urged students to listen and learn.

"Listen to your peers like you have to listen to your wife when she is speaking," Butts said. "If you find something you are good at, keep trying to be your best at it."

Some students took Butts' advice to heart.

"Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success," said graduate student Brandon Meekins.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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