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tv   Embry- Riddle Commencement - NTSB Chair Robert Sumwalt  CSPAN  May 27, 2018 6:47am-7:00am EDT

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>> graduates of arizona's embry-riddle aeronautical university heard remarks from national transportation safety board chair robert sumwalt. the former pilot and nasa aviation consultant is an alumnus of the school. mr. sumwalt: wel, as we all know, obtaining a college degree is a huge accomplishment. as you stand at the threshold of this new bright future, allow me to offer a few words of guidance that has served me well over the years. 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.
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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 engineering at the university of south carolina was? it was named the robert l. sumwalt 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. there was another problem, too. no one warned me that to be an engineer you had to know how to add and subtract. [laughter] mr. sumwalt: calculus.
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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. by the time i entered as a freshman in college, i was hooked. i had found my passion. i was spending 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? so, after a fairly unceremonious freshman year in engineering, i summoned the courage to go to my grandfather, and i said, bob, i can't be an engineer.
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i'm not cut out for 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. he said, 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, then 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 gave 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.
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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 follow the career path of others in your family. maybe you have heard statements like, why can't you be a lawyer 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. but in addition to that, there are two other critical elements of success. that is integrity and professionalism. first, integrity.
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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, yes, 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. as a board 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
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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. and find out what we are really made of. just think of this, wisdom is knowing the right path to take, integrity is taking it. professionalism. i had the privilege of flying for a living for almost 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 starting 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
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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. checklist usage, sterile cockpit compliance, integrity, and rationalism. -- professionalism. they are essential ingredients in any occupation, but especially important in aviation and the fields that many of you will go into. finally, i want to encourage you 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.
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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.
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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 reading 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. but like many 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 ntsb and now there is an opening and you have to go for it. you know, the truth is i probably would have never gone
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for it had bill not encouraged me to do it. after all, i would never get it . 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. so my charge to you is when you walk out of here and you go for that career, you go for life, my challenge and charge to you is remove those barriers 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, but 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
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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] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] >> commencement and speeches all this weekend primetime. monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern oprah winfrey, representative , steve scalise rob rosenstein, kotchit. ney general starbucks ceo, and nikki haley, tuesday, wednesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, hillary clinton, rex tillerson, james mattis, and canadian prime minister justin trudeau. thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, governor tim cook,
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john kasich, governor kate brown, and congressman luis gutierrez. eastern, at 8:00 p.m. jimmy carter, betsy devos, representative mark meadows, and atlanta mayor keisha lance bottoms. next week in prime time, on c-span and and on the free c-span radio app. >> here on c-span this morning, washington journal is next. been a look at the political strategy for democrats heading into the 2018 midterm elections with jb purse, president of the senate majority pact. state secretary of mike pompeo talks to congress about president trump's decision to cancel the upcoming summit with north koreancoming up on 'n journal," eleanor clift from the
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