Lessons From Pooh Bear and the Art of Creating a Meaningful Life Map
Far from the expected Commencement sentiments of following dreams, soaking up experiences and never giving up, Tim Schultz offered one very specific piece of advice for DU’s Class of 2018: volunteer.
Go beyond hammering nails for a housing initiative or serving a Thanksgiving meal to the homeless, Schultz urged the 1,149 students collecting their degrees at the June 9 undergraduate Commencement ceremony in Magness Arena. “I am suggesting a much deeper engagement with an organization where your goal is to be a key member of the team, or even a board member.”
Schultz’s own story, which he shared with the sea of brand new alumni and their loved ones, is one in which volunteerism and a commitment to giving back have proved not only fulfilling, but door-opening. His own dedication to building up the 4-H animal sale at the Colorado State Fair earned Schultz recognition from a board member of the Boettcher Foundation, where he would eventually become president and executive director.
“There are 17,000 public charities in Colorado alone,” Schultz said. “Almost all of them need help. … Most give responsibility quickly; you have a good chance to lead a project; you will meet many other volunteers who have different careers — all key ingredients in expanding your life-defining moments.”
During his time serving the Boettcher Foundation, Schultz has met countless students, and he inspired the outgoing class with their stories of service. He spoke of Joseph Zhang, a member of the Class of 2013 who produced a documentary about LGBT youth homelessness as a student, before starting a nonprofit dedicated to helping marginalized populations. He shared the story of Elizabeth Hoffner, who donned her own cap and gown at Saturday’s ceremony. Hoffner volunteered at a café helping those in need as a freshman and has since created a partnership between DU and an organization that aids victims of sex trafficking.
Finally, Schultz pointed to the University itself as a model for how graduates ought to live their lives. “Just like your University, I challenge you here today, both young and old, to think about your own life map and how you can redefine and enrich it in the years to come,” he said.
That idea is one Chancellor Rebecca Chopp echoed in her own address. “I started at DU at the same time many of you did four years ago,” Chopp said. “We have been part of a forward-looking DU, trying to build for you and for the future a DU that truly served the 21st century. I want to thank you for being so open, so welcoming, so engaged, so hardworking and yes, so fun-loving.”
Additional wisdom came from student speaker Morgan Smith, who called on the incomparable Winnie the Pooh for help summing up his time at DU: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”