Double degree graduateJon Pedersen delivered the student speech at Friday’s graduation ceremony for Griffith Business School students. A student of International Business and International Relations, Jon’s words were truly uplifting when he took the podium at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre to mark the end of an era for the class of 2015.

Growing up in Norway everything came very easily to me throughout my youth, but, unfortunately, I took it all for granted and I followed everyone else with absolutely no sense of direction. In high school I even failed four subjects because I was so careless, I didn’t care to show up, didn’t do my homework, and generally didn’t really care about anything (except for partying and playing video games).

My dad – as any concerned parent would – constantly lectured me on how I was wasting my life. Overall, I was not seeing the beauty around me, not appreciating the moments, and not really having any purpose in my life.

Jon P4Things changed for me following a near-death incident involving my younger brother who unsuccessfully attempted suicide. This painful incident gave my life a feeling of urgency, I began living differently – searching for a sense of purpose – and appreciating everything as if it would be the last day of my life or the last for any of those around me.

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself how you will serve the world? Do you have a purpose, or do you live to just pass the time away? We all have a lot of things to live with – but what do we live for?

I ask you this as a reminder for you all to really live life to the fullest — discover what makes you come alive — what gives meaning to your life — focus on what you love. Remember that, although at some point we are all bound to stumble and some fears may be realized – keep your faith, learn from every mistake, and return to your purpose. The world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the numbers of times you get back up.

Bradley Whitford once put it very eloquently: “You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life”. Be that active hero of your own life. Let the difficulties come and the fears sharpen you, let them challenge you and make you stronger.

Jon P7Fellow graduates, look at the person to your left, and now look to your right. What do you see? Do you see any heroes? You know, you might be looking at the future Prime Minister, or the next Steve Jobs, or even the next Nicki Minaj!

We are all heroes – and the way we have fought ourselves through stressful times, countless hours of highly caffeinated cram sessions and allnighters, starting the assignment the day before it is due and still passing, and not to mention finding a place to park at Griffith – surely attests to that. Continue to be a hero, use your superpowers to do good – to live your purpose in life. Be ever vigilant against apathy and complacency – my youth taught me that nothing good ever comes from that.

Let us acknowledge that all heroes need their sidekicks and supporters to achieve their goals. I certainly know that I would not be here had it not been for the love and support of my brother and my family. So here is great big Griffith thank you to all the parents, family and friends who have encouraged us all to go and keep going, supported us financially and emotionally, and inspired us to overcome challenges in the chase of our degrees. We are all so incredibly grateful for your unconditional love and tireless support.

To all the teachers and staff who have guided us on this journey – Griffith University is world class – and so are you. Your dedication to our education has been inexhaustible and we truly applaud your commitment to our future.

Graduates, now you are all able and ready to do beautiful things in this world, and while today is the end of one chapter, it is the beginning of the next. And after you walk through those doors today remember: live with a purpose that will make everyday count – appreciate every moment and take nothing for granted. Enjoy being a hero! And never let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through you!Jon P5