Skip to main content

Seventeenth December Commencement Address

Seventeenth December Commencement Address

By Evan Frazier, CEO of the Advanced Leadership Institute

by Public Relations | December 22, 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021– Robert S. Carey Performing Arts Center

Saint Vincent College – Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Good morning distinguished faculty and administrators, graduates and guests. What an honor it is to be invited to deliver the commencement address here at Saint Vincent College. Thank you, Father Paul and my dear friend Jeff Mallory, for this opportunity to speak with you today. I have always been impressed with the quality of the education at Saint Vincent College and their connection with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, I recently learned during a lunch with Father Paul and Jeff that Saint Vincent had the largest monastery in the world. (How cool is that!)   

Since my wife and kids are all traveling, I am pleased to be here today with my mother, Brenda Frazier, who has been an inspiration in my life. As a former teacher, activist, civic leader, businessperson and public official, she has been a role model for me and so many others over the years. Thanks for being here, Mom.  

College graduation is a special time in our lives. For parents and families, it’s a time to see our loved ones advance and celebrate the transition into a new phase of life. For the graduates, it’s a time of completion and new beginnings. It’s an important time to reflect on recent years about the knowledge you’ve gained, the experiences you had and the relationships you have formed during your college experience. Some of the relationships you may call upon from time to time, others represent people that you will stay connected with for your entire life. 

In addition to these traditional experiences that have bound college graduates together through the generations, indeed this graduating class has faced some unique circumstances based on things happening in our society. First, we are all impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, something that none of us saw coming but impacted each one of us in profound ways. It forced us to work remotely, take classes online, socialize differently as well as to wear masks to protect ourselves, loved ones and others in the community. And unfortunately, for many, it has caused us to deal with the loss of jobs and economic security, and even the death of friends and family members due to the devastating impact of the pandemic. 

One of the things that we have learned from COVID-19 is that life is unscripted. We must be flexible in our thinking and our mindset to adapt and be able to positively navigate the future. It is important to be able to apply the quality education that you received from Saint Vincent College not just for a predetermined career, but you may need to apply it to a new lifestyle or even new job that hasn’t yet been created. 

In a book entitled “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Stanford University psychologist Dr. Carol S. Dweck talks about the difference of having a “growth mindset” as opposed to a “fixed mindset.” She defines people with a fixed mindset are those who believe their abilities are fixed and are less likely to grow as opposed to those with a growth mindset – people who believe that abilities can be developed. The leaders of tomorrow will need a growth mindset to acquire new skills, adapt to new circumstances, and successfully handle challenges that face us. 

Another special circumstance that you have witnessed as a student is what some term “the great awakening” in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, which has launched significant national protests, political unrest, and a renewed focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). While racial inequality is not new in our country, for many it became clear for the first time that racism still exists in present society with clear evidence of its ugliness.   

For me, the evidence of racism was not new; it was there all along, but to many it was invisible. In fact, several years prior to the incidents in Summer 2020, I, along with others, felt and saw the effects of institutional racism and started an initiative that grew into The Advanced Leadership Institute whose mission is to cultivate Black executive leadership to strengthen companies, institutions, and communities. This is the institute that I currently lead today. 

As students, you also witnessed a country being divided over race, issues of politics, gender equality and environment. Many of you likely participated in debates on campus (perhaps virtually) between “Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter,” this notion of what is “Fake News” and was the election really stolen. Wherever you stand on these issues, the bottom line is we are living in dynamic times where in many respects the country is divided. The impact of this division is making people domestically and around the world to question the United States, our ability to lead and whether democracy is still viable and even desirable. My wife and I just returned from France a couple days ago and it made me think about the United States and the important role we play in the world. In my recent travels to New York City, it was a clear reminder of how diverse we are as a country and the important need to embrace DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) so we can take advantage of the creativity and talent for us to remain competitive in the world. 

Despite the challenges that we face, I believe in the resilience of the American people and our system of government. One of the reasons that I’m encouraged is that universities like Saint Vincent College are educating talented students like today’s graduating class, reinforcing the importance of God and faith and encouraging responsible leadership. Leadership and faith really do matter! 

As you prepare yourselves to go into your next phase of your life, it's my hope that you will utilize your education to find solutions to the challenges that we face in our society, seek to unify, and not divide, stand up for what is right and just, and be leaders who make a difference in your family, community, businesses, profession, country and the world. 

As I prepare to close, I wanted to leave you with something that I developed when I was a senior in college at Cornell University. Over the years I spoke about it, applied it to my life and many have benefited from it. It’s a success framework that became known as The Frazier Formula for Success, and ultimately, I wrote a book on this concept. The main formula is S=VPAR. This stands for Success = Vision, A Plan, and the Right Attitude. 

  1. Vision – Your long-term view of where you see yourself in the future.  Your vision statement is your self-determined criteria for success.  It becomes a strategic lens for your decisions and allows you to be a participant in defining success for your life. 
  2. A Plan – While your vision is where you want to go, your plan is the roadmap for how you to get there.  It’s important to create both personal and professional steps as a part of your plan.  Your plan should continue to evolve on a regular basis. 
  3. The Right Attitude – Not attitude, but the right attitude, one that is in alignment with your vision.  This encompasses not only your mood, but it’s a combination of your perspective, orientation, and outlook toward goals, other people and self.  It includes things like do you believe you can achieve your vision; do you look at the glass half-full or half-empty and the importance of perseverance in anything you decide to do.   

I believe that having a clear vision that motivates you, developing a plan that has concrete personal and professional steps to achieve your vision and aligning The Right Attitude based on your vision will help you find success no matter what you aspire to achieve in life. I hope you will utilize The Frazier Formula to clarify your purpose and to make a positive impact on this world. 

Congratulations to the Saint Vincent College graduates! Many blessings to you [and] your families, and I wish you much success in your future!