As they celebrated gaining master's degrees, the first graduates of Oklahoma Baptist University's International Graduate School were urged to give away what they had during the OBU-IGS Commencement Saturday afternoon in Oklahoma City.
A total of 12 graduates received master of business administration degrees during the afternoon ceremony at the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. They are the inaugural graduating class for the graduate program which began in February 2007.
Jeremie Kubicek, president and CEO of Giant Impact, delivered the Commencement Address, describing three characteristics of "great leaders." He challenged the graduates to lead with vision, manage roadblocks, and give to others.
"Think about your dreams," he told the graduates. "What I've found is that great leaders ... take dreams and craft them and start kneading them into a shape and that shape becomes vision.
"Take your vision, a crafting of all your dreams, and put it on like a cap and wear that vision every day," said Kubicek, stressing that a clear vision can help the graduates lead during times of difficulty.
"Every leader experiences roadblocks of some form," he said. "Use vision as a reminder that you still have a task to carry on."
Noting the graduates' achievement, he then challenged them to invest in the lives of others.
"Give everything that's inside you. Now's your chance to do that."
"When great leaders give it all away, they're actually getting it all back in return. That's the way the world works. Whatever you give, you receive. Whenever you want to advance, serve others. Whenever you want to reach higher heights, serve others. That's the way that leadership works. It always works that way," said Kubicek.
The entrepreneur, who co-founded Oklahoma City-based Giant Partners, cited the nation's current economic crisis to stress his point.
"The problem with our current crisis is we have a lot of leaders who decided to gain and get, and we have a history in the last few years of gaining ... and now we have a crisis on our hands that comes from truly not serving one another or others' interests. That's on a global basis; that's on a national level, but it even happens in your own companies."
Kubicek, a 1993 OBU graduate, consulted with the university's academic leadership in the development of the M.B.A. degree program.
"This program that was developed specifically not just to be a cerebral, academic graduate degree, but to bring the heart and the head together," said Kubicek.
Operated in downtown Oklahoma City, the 18-month OBU-IGS program includes an international study component. The graduates journeyed to Europe to learn from European business leaders in January 2008.
During the ceremony, Shryln Treadwell, a member of the class, brought remarks for the graduates.
Treadwell, senior vice president for beneficiary services with the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma, noted the significance of the event's location, the church's Louise Prichard Chapel. Mrs. Prichard established an endowed scholarship fund for OBU ministry students in 1957. That fund, now valued at nearly $8 million, is OBU's largest trust.
Treadwell said it was significant to "graduate here, in a place filled with history, receiving a master's degree from an institution rich with history."
"There are those moments when we realize we've been part of something great," she said. "Our accomplishments in this program have been many."
Treadwell, who resides in Oklahoma City, was one of two summa cum laude graduates in the class. She and Andrew Ranson achieved perfect 4.0 grade point averages in their graduate courses. Ranson, from Stillwater, Okla., presented a vocal solo during the ceremonies.
The graduating class also included Matt Boston, Edmond, Okla.; Kevin DeShazo, Oklahoma City; Ron Duggins, Stillwater, Okla.; Penny Dunaway, Shawnee, Okla.; Michael Hargrove, Oklahoma City; Amanda Hayes, Edmond; Eric Jordan, Choctaw, Okla.; Kenneth Massey, Palm Harbor, Fla.; Mac Swindell, Piedmont, Okla.; and Mike Williams, Edmond.