Elburn collegian lauds servant leaders at AU graduation

AURORA—An Elburn resident was chosen to speak for classmates at 117th annual Aurora University commencement ceremonies May 9 on the campus quadrangle at 347 S. Gladstone Ave., Aurora.

Andrew J. Price offered reflections on the university at the 2:30 p.m. undergraduate ceremony.

Price was a senior organizational management major. He received the Spartan Award, AU’s top award to a student, at an annual spring honors convocation in Crimi Auditorium April 24.

Price was among 581 undergraduate students who received bachelor’s degrees.

The following is the text of Price’s speech:

“There are over 500 chairs here today, filled with educated minds eager to graduate and make the most of themselves in their own unique way. You have dealt with a mix of countless papers, tests, nervous presentations, long athletic practices, a full-time job, and even caring for your loved ones.

You have all earned this day to celebrate with those that make you laugh, make you live, and today maybe even make you cry. But before we get into all that mushy stuff, there is an idea I would like to share with you today.

An idea that took me an entire four years to realize. An idea that connects every chair (and those standing) to every achievement honored at graduation. This simple idea is practiced by all of us whether we know it or not. It is called servant leadership.

This often confusing term simply means that to lead, one must serve others. That is to say, as one’s responsibility grows, the responsibility to serve others increases, not the other way around. This type of leader can create numerous material results for just a glimpse of spiritual reward.

Parents, also known as the ultimate servant leader, you have served your son or daughter their entire life. You gave us repetitive lectures about going to college, asked us, … “Got a job yet?” and reminded us to stop asking for gas money every time we happened to run into you.

Remember the numerous memories during the holidays when we were little. You dedicated hours upon hours of time scurrying about for the right gifts, wrapping them, hiding them somewhere where we couldn’t find them, having to unwrap one and rushing all the way back to Walmart because you got the wrong size, hurry home, rewrap them, and place them under the tree.

However, in the morning when our faces light up … some big guy in the red suit takes all the credit. But you made all those sacrifices just to witness this day, even if it is a few brief seconds of hearing your child’s name as they receive their degree … and also to hear them say, mom, dad, I did it.

Professors, you have molded our minds with your knowledge and experience. We now have the skills to fulfill our objective in the career world. You inspired us to do something we see as a passion and not work. And you also understood why we hated night classes and how we sometimes got you to make that final into a take-home.

AU staff, you are the behind-the-scenes crew that we often take for granted. All of your dedication and hard work has set each student up for success. Students will probably not be lining up outside your office to praise your role on campus. But you do it anyways. You do all of these things just to see us have a great college experience.

Seniors, even we are servant leaders on campus. I have seen you help tutor, volunteer at numerous events, lead Spartan cheers at AU/BU games and contribute your own ideas to this university. There is not much credit given to these tasks, but it continues to happen every year.

All of these servant-leader roles together have helped us get to this point. For once, this day is to give credit where it is deserved.

So today, I want to say thank you, on behalf of the 500 chairs here today, to you for being servant leaders, for being an example to us.

And congratulations class of 2010 … you’ve earned it. Thank you.”