Becoming Tomorrow's Leaders

I have pondered the Valedictory Address that was given by Sheila C. Johnson at the University of Virginia, on May 17, 2008.

Sheila is an eloquent speaker and a fascinating woman. She co-founded the Black Entertainment Network, she has a stake in three sports teams, and owns a number of businesses.

She told the students and families present - that the absolutes of her generation were not the absolutes of today's world. The playing field had significantly changed. Making it in today's world required so much more - yet today's young men and women were much better prepared to take on the demands and challenges of this world.

In the midst of a Presidential election, she challenged those present to look at the candidates and what they had to offer differently - and to not be coerced by those who traded in the currency of anger or fear.

There was so much wisdom in her words - her address is worth reading.

Sheila Johnson ended her discourse with a fitting quote from Thomas Jefferson - or as he is respectfully referred to on grounds - Mr. Jefferson:

"Leaders invite us to imagine greater goals and to stretch ourselves beyond what we think we can achieve. They challenge our limitations and inspire us to do more.."

Then she appropriately added to the graduating Class of 2008:

"Now go out there, do us proud and whatever you do, don't ever lose sight of - or take for granted - the greatness that lives within you."

I thought of Rumi who once wrote:

"The whole universe resides within you. Ask all from yourself."

For the complete text of Sheila Johnson's address, go to:


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