“To be an original, you need to take radical risks.” This statement, shared by Adam Grant in his book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, is bold and it’s one I believe all Kendall students and graduates should live by.
Commencement speaker Chef Rick Bayless is the epitome of a radical risk taker. Born in Oklahoma and now based in Chicago, he has immersed himself in Mexican culture and has become one of the premiere voices writing and speaking about the cuisine of Mexico. He’s an author, a chef-owner, and an educator. In addition to eight cookbooks, he’s the man behind seven restaurants, including Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. He also founded the Frontera Farmer Foundation, which promotes sustainable farms in the Chicago area. And those are only a few of the James Beard Foundation award-winning chef’s accomplishments.
I believe he’s been able to build his businesses because he’s original, forward thinking, and a non-conformist. Those are all characteristics we help students develop at Kendall. Our goal is to help our students forge their own path, be original, and resist conforming to the norm.
As our graduates cross the stage June 25, they will have an array of opportunities in front of them. Graduation is a time that provides ample room for trying new things—new positions, new industries, new specialties—and discovering if those things make sense.
When I graduated from college, I thought I’d be a high school teacher. I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities, from becoming a chef-owner to my position as interim president at Kendall. It’s my hope that our graduates take advantage of every opportunity that is available to them.
This is my message to new and old graduates alike: Try everything. Make mistakes. Switch your focus—I promise you will find more than one passion. I know you are each on a path to becoming very successful professionals, and I look forward to learning about where you go.
Congratulations to our graduates, the Class of 2016!