Published on: May 20, 2019by Kevin Coupe
In California, the Whittier Daily News has the story of last Friday’s graduation ceremony at Biola University, described as a private evangelical Christian institution, where Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson, the owner and president of In-N-Out Burger, gave the commencement address.
It wasn’t just words of wisdom that were given to the graduates, however. More than 600 Biola undergraduate students and 300 graduate students also received gift cards to In-N-Out with their diplomas.
It was a “rare public appearance” for Snyder-Ellingson, the granddaughter of In-N-Out’s founder, according to the Daily News. In her speech, “Snyder spoke about her struggles with alcohol and cannabis and the abuse she endured in a past relationship. She urged Biola’s students to not let pride prevent them from being open and honest about their struggles. ‘I’m here to tell you that if you think you are too good for any sin out there, beware,’ she said. ‘Because every one of us is capable of just about anything if we’ve been through the right things, put in the right conditions, hurt in the right way’.”
The story points out that “as sole heir of the In-N-Out fortune, Snyder’s net worth is about $3 billion as of this month. She directs the In-N-Out Foundation, an organization which fights child abuse and runs an organization called Slave 2 Nothing, which helps victims of human trafficking and people suffering from addictions.”
I’ve always found that this time of year to be Eye-Opening, because it is when all sorts of interesting people end up giving commencement speeches that can prove to be enlightening, illuminating, entertaining and provocative - and sometimes all of these things.
Perhaps the best of the breed was the talk that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford’s commencement ceremony in 2005, in which he told just three stores .. and yet, spoke about so much more. (You can watch it here.)
Overt the next month or so, we’re going to see all sorts of videos and stories about commencement addresses, and I urge you to take a moment to watch or read them. It often is worth it. (I do it in part because I am hoping I will one day get the chance to deliver one, though I’m realistic enough to know that if it happens, it will be a high school graduation, not a college commencement. I’ve done two weddings, and I’d love the opportunity to do a graduation.)
Another example: Over the weekend, the 396 young men who were graduating from Morehouse College, a historically black institution, were informed by their commencement speaker - Robert F. Smith, a billionaire investor who founded Vista Equity Partners and is the richest black man in America - that he and his family would be paying off all their college loans.
“We’re going to put a little fuel in your bus,” he told them … and the implication was that, freed from this particular financial burden, he expected them to do great things and give back to their communities.
The gesture came at a time when student loan debt is growing as a financial, cultural and political issue.
“Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward, because we are enough to take care of our own community,” Smith said. “We are enough to ensure we have all of the opportunities of the American dream, and we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds.”
An Eye-Opener indeed.
- KC's View: