News Item

Gowdy Addresses Graduates at Fall Commencement

December 16, 2015
Fall 2015 Commencement Ceremony

Congratulations to our Fall 2015 Lander graduates! Enjoy this short video of your big day!

Posted by Lander University on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lander University conducted its fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 12, when 200 graduates crossed the stage in the Finis Horne Arena to receive their degrees.

The commencement speaker was Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who is in his third term as U.S. Representative from the 4th Congressional District, which includes Spartanburg and Union counties, and portions of Greenville and Laurens counties. In May of last year, he was named Chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. He is also a member of the House Committees on Ethics, Oversight and Government Reform, and Judiciary, and serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

In his address, Gowdy urged Lander’s newest graduates to “strive for significance. Strive to live a life that matters.

“In the grand scheme of things, each of us only has a little bit of time. Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of time to do something significant,” Gowdy said, citing that it took only three days to preserve democracy at Thermopylae over 2,000 years ago, and only 11 days for Martin Luther King Jr. to pen one of the most famous letters in history. “You can do it in three days, you can do it in 11 days. You can actually do it in a much shorter period of time than that. The challenge is not the time – the challenge is finding something that you care enough about to want to lead.”

Gowdy said great leaders do not have to be famous to be influential. After being elected to Congress, he said he was awestruck at first by the many monuments and buildings he saw each time he flew into Washington, D.C. He quickly realized, however, that he needed to shift his focus.

“I needed to look out of the right side of the plane, at the elegant, white crosses that punctuate the rolling, green hills at Arlington,” he said. “And I don’t know the name of a single person there. If you want to build a state, a country, it won’t be the names of people you know, necessarily. It will be the people who led lives of virtue, even if it’s anonymously.”

Gowdy pointed to the 1982 crash of Air Florida Flight 90, which struck the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., as an example of this principle. Six individuals survived the crash, and a 17-year-old Gowdy watched with his father as the rescue unfolded on television.

“A rope was lowered into the hands of a man you’ve never heard of. He has all of their lives in his hands, along with all his hopes and dreams, and he passes that ladder to a stranger,” Gowdy said, adding that he watched this scenario repeat until every other passenger was plucked from the icy waters of the Potomac. “And when the helicopter comes back for Arland Williams, he has succumbed to fatigue and drowned.

“You don’t have to be famous to change the course of history. You don’t have to be famous to impact other people’s lives. You just have to live a life of conviction and service, and find something that you care enough about that you are willing to sacrifice,” he said.

“If you can find that, you will be a leader.” 

What a beautiful day for graduation at Lander! We were thrilled to share in the joy of the graduates and their families....

Posted by Lander University on Saturday, December 12, 2015