Posted by Sara Meers on May 1, 2014
Each year, an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.
At Honors Convocation on Friday, April 11, history and religion major Andrew Patton was named the Aurora University 2014 Lincoln Laureate, in addition to receiving the Moses Crouse Religion Award for being an outstanding religion major. As the Class of 2014 Recipient of the Lincoln Laureate, Patton addressed the AU community at the assembly and his remarks are shared below.
Andrew Patton’s Reflection at Honors Convocation
Andy Stanley said, “There’s a little Lady Gaga inside of us that’s just living for the applause.” He’s right, there is something inside each of us that yearns to be recognized and known. But sometimes our internal Gaga can get blown out of proportion and dwarf who we really are. We have all seen it happen. Someone receives praise or promotions that change their perception of themselves and the people around them. And if we pay attention, that tension—the tension of receiving applause and remaining humble—is in the room today.
A lot is at stake in our response to this tension. Two years ago President Sherrick introduced the phrase, “Discover what matters. And build your life around it.” In many ways, today is a celebration of the activities and moments that have helped us along that journey. But if we choose to forsake humility and live for the applause, we are putting that life long journey on hold. We would limit our capacity to discover what really matters, undermine the things we have already begun to build around it, and sacrifice our future impact, all for our own ego.
I don’t want that for any of us. I hope everyone can say, “I discovered what mattered and built my life around it.” So the question is how do we respond to the tension of being recognized and remaining humble? For the last four years, we have been writing essays, so everyone here knows the cardinal sin of writing is plagiarism. It’s punishable by academic death. So we learned to avoid plagiarism by giving credit to the people we referred to in our essays. We can learn something from writing. We can stay humble by citing our sources in life. It’s like when Peyton Manning talks to the media after another take-your-breath-away performance he always gives credit to the offensive lineman and wide receivers who enabled his success. So I want to ask you: Who should be on the bibliography of your life? Each one of us has people who helped us get here today. It could be a parent, a professor, a coach, a mentor or a friend. Be sure to take the time to honor and thank them for their influence on your life.
I believe citing our sources in life will unlock something significant and meaningful inside each of us. We’ll discover that what matters is more than ourselves. The ways we build our lives around what matters will have a firm foundation because our appetite for applause won’t compromise us. And the difference we make will be multiplied by people who have the same passion because instead of leaving people behind as we are recognized, we will bring them along and recognize their contributions to our success. There’s a lot at stake in the tension of remaining humble and being recognized, but demonstrating humility will be a catalyst for discovering what matters, building our lives around it and leaving a lasting legacy.
You have already begun that journey. You have worked hard, served often and led well, and I am proud to join the ranks with people who deserve recognition.
To conclude, I want to say thank you President Sherrick and the university faculty for creating an environment for us to discover what matters and provides opportunities to begin building our life around it. Thank you parents and family members for inspiring and encouraging us along the way, we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you friends for standing by one another when the road was tough. And finally, congratulations graduates! You’re fantastic and certainly deserve it!