tv Embry- Riddle Commencement - NTSB Chair Robert Sumwalt CSPAN May 26, 2018 9:07pm-9:20pm EDT
the class of 2018 and to everyone who has helped prepare your the world of opportunities that await. thank you. [applause] >> graduates of arizona's embry-riddle aeronautical university heard remarks from robert sumwalt. school. alumnus of the it sumwalt: as we all know, obtaining a college degree is a huge accomplishment. as you stand at the threshold of the new bright future, allow me to offer a few words of guidance. it is pretty simple. do what you love. do it well. and do it with passion, integrity, and professionalism.
growing up, i assumed that my career path would take me to be an engineer. after all, my grandfather was an engineer. my father was an engineer. both had graduate degrees from m.i.t. my grandfather had been the dean of engineering at the university of south carolina and since the time i was five years old, you know what the name of the college of university of south carolina was? umwalt the robert l s college of engineering. so what do you think i thought i was going to be when i grew up? there were just a couple problems. first of all, i didn't want to be an engineer. nothing wrong with engineers, i was raised by them. but, i wanted a career in aviation. ,here was another problem, too to beo one warned me that
an engineer you had to know how to add and subtract. [laughter] mr. sumwalt: calculus. i will admit, i finally made an a in it, but it was not on the first time and i'm not even sure it was on the second time. [laughter] mr. sumwalt: my senior year in high school, i started flying. at the time i entered as a freshman in college, i was hooked. i had found my passion. i spent most of my time at the airport flying and studying flying. meanwhile, yes, i was building lots of flying time, the bad news was those calculus grades, they were not getting any better. did i mention that chemistry was eating my lunch as well? unceremoniousirly freshman year in engineering, i summoned the courage to go to my bob, ither, and i said
can't be an engineer. i'm not cut out for it or it my passion is with flying. and i thought that somehow he would be disappointed, as if i was letting the family down. but then he told me something that changed my life. robert, the secret to life is simple: do what you love, do it well, and do it with passion. he pointed out that most people spend a lot of their work lives, a lot of their lives at work and so many people don't really love what they do for a living. if you don't enjoy your job, that you may not be happy in life. so with that, he said if you want to be a pilot, be a pilot. and that was like a light switching, turning on a light switch for me. he basically dave me permission to pursue my own passion, my own dreams.
i can tell you, i have not regretted it a day since. [applause] mr. sumwalt: thank you. you know, perhaps some of you have struggled with the same sort of situation. perhaps there are people here in your family with you today that have wondered why you did not all of the career path of others in your family. maybe you have heard statements like, why can't you be a lawyer like your other -- like your brother? perhaps there are those who have wondered how did you ever get into this aviation thing? and what are you going to do when you finally grow up? well, what my father told me on that day, 43 years ago, was the best advice i have ever been given, so i wanted to share it with you. do what you love, do it well, and do it with passion.
in addition to that, there are two other critical elements of success. that is integrity and professionalism. first, integrity. integrity is your greatest asset. it is one of those key metrics that others will use to judge you depending on the degree that you either have it or you don't. i once heard former secretary of transportation, andy card say, leaders have the courage to stand alone. as an airline pilot, as an aviation manager, as an ntsb board member, i have found cases where i have to stand alone. as an airline pilot, it took courage to say, i'm not going to take off right now when i believe the weather is not safe. when other pilots were taking off. member, there have certainly been occasions when i have been totally outnumbered in
a 4-1 vote. it does take courage to stand alone, but it is those moments when we choose to go against the grain, to stick to an unpopular stance, and to take the heat that comes with it, that we discover the calibration of our moral compass. we find out what we are really made of. , wisdom isof this knowing the right cap to take, integrity is taking it. professionalism. i had the privilege of flying for a living for a most three decades and i can tell you that the majority of flights do operate with high degrees of professionalism. but i worry about those that don't. in the 12 years that i have been on the board, we have seen cases where professionalism has been lacking. i remember one accident were shortly after her to the engines, the captain said, i'm
ambivalent right now. i've got six months to go. quite simply, that captain was not mentally in the ballgame when the emergency unfolded. just remember, the people who entrust your life to you, they don't want somebody -- they don't deserve somebody who is ambivalent. they deserve someone who displays professionalism with everything that they do. so a hallmark of an aviators professionalism is insistence. insistence on strict adherence to procedures. cockpitt usage, sterile compliance, integrity, and rationalism. they are essential ingredients in any occupation, what important in aviation and the fields that many of you will go into. yoully, i want to encourage not to put artificial barriers in your lives.
i remember a story of a public aquarium. you know, a large fish tank with large fish. what do fish do all day long? they swim in circles all day long. i don't know what they do at night. in the daytime, they swim around in circles. the researchers decided one day, let's go in and place glass partition in the middle of this tank to separate it from the area that the fish can swim in and an area where they can't go into. of course, what do you think at first the fish did? they came to the partition and banged their nose on it and then they turned and continued swimming. after several months, the fish were really used to that partition being there, so the researchers came and they removed the partition. what do you think the fish did? they swam right to the point where the partition had been,
and they continued their turn. they saw an invisible barrier. a barrier that was no longer there that kept them from going where they wanted to go. i suspect that sometimes we do that in our lives. we place artificial barriers that prevent us from doing something we aspire to do. in my case, ever since i started ,eading ntsb accident reports as a freshman in college, i had a secret dream. my dream was one day, i want to be a member of the ntsb. that was my dream. dreams, it would probably never happen. but one day, a good friend of mine, who i worked closely with at the airline came up to me and said robert, you have always wanted to be on the nts the and now there is an opening and you have to go for it.
you know the truth is, i probably would have never gone for it had bill not encouraged me to do it. after all, i would never get it here and i don't have the right connections. i'm not smart enough. there are too many other people vying for it. i had all of the excuses. i had put an artificial barrier in my life. , is when youto you walk out of here and you go for , my career, you go for life challenge and charge to you is remove those harriers from your lives. don't let anyone or anything keep you from fulfilling your dreams. in closing, many of you will travel extensively in your careers. as you stand on the brink of that great adventure, i hope that you will remember, it is not the quantity of the miles, at the quality of the journey.
when you do what you love, you do it well and you do it with passion and you do it with integrity and professionalism. you will have a worthwhile journey. thank you very much. good luck, and may god bless america. thank you very much. [applause] >> commencement speeches, next week in prime time, monday at 8 winfrey,ern, oprah representative steve scully's, rob rosenstein, and attorney joe koch it. -- attorney joe koch it. haley,ks ceo, and nikki wednesday at 8 p.m. eastern, hillary clinton, rex tillerson, james mattis, and canadian prime
minister justin trudeau. thursday at 8 p.m. eastern, tim cook, john kasich, kate brown, and congressman luis gutierrez. next week in prime time, on c-span and c-span.org and on the free c-span radio app. ♪ >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up on sunday morning, the daily beast eleanor clift and cheryl chumley will be on to talk about political news of the day. and former ambassador to this u.s. discusses tensions