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05-16-1999

Ralph E. Hawes Jr. '55 Commencement Address

Ralph E. Hawes Jr.'55, managing principal of Hawes & Associates and retired executive vice president-Missiles and Electronics of the General Dynamics Corporation, today received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 106th Commencement in Potsdam, N.Y. His address to students follows:

President Brown, trustees, honored guests, faculty, parents, friends, but most importantly, our graduating seniors:

What a wonderful day for the graduates, for their families, for the faculty, and for me and my life partner, Solita-Anna.

In reflecting back on my career, and one that I'm fortunate enough to be able to say I had some success in, I have selected two thoughts I'd like to share with you:

First, select good mentors and be a mentor throughout your professional career. Top mentors, as I hope you have learned here at Clarkson, are essential to your continued maturation as a person and in your professional career. Search them out, select them very carefully, learn from them, and emulate them. And if your career is successful, as I'm sure many of them will be, you'll have many opportunities to become a mentor. Seize it, take it, enjoy it, give back, and learn in the process. It's not going to just happen. It's a very competitive world out there. Good mentors are hard to find, hard to get their time, but they will respond if you respond.

Many of you have already had mentors in your career. Think about what you've learned. Think about how that mentoring process started, and use that as your experience to look forward and pick those that will help you through your professional career.

My second thought has already been mentioned by several of the very fine and wonderful people that preceded me: Seek and take responsibility. And I use the word "seek," and I use the word "take" specifically. And I'm talking about responsibility in the boldest sense-- in your life's work and the scope of your life. Responsibility for your work product, your career success, your family success, for your community involvement, and whatever company or enterprise that you hook up with during your career. And I know very well that you know that (in) today's environment, seeking and taking responsibility is not necessarily in fashion. All you have to do is look at the media these days, and you'll see what I mean.

Now, each of you have your own ideas of what will make for a successful person, and a successful career. If these are not in your list, I invite you to add them to your list. If they are on your list, please put them as top priority. They have served me well for well over 50 years.

I wish you the best of luck, and Godspeed as you commence or continue your career. And thank you, Clarkson, for this award.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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