“There are big social-justice issues out there, and the Global Poverty Project takes them on – we mess with the world’s status quo.”
This remark from GPP USA’s Operations Advisor John Wilkerson was met with cheers – no doubt of profound appreciation – from Utah State University’s graduating students on May 7th. A USU graduate himself, Wilkerson was the keynote speaker of the university’s 124th Commencement Ceremony, and also the recipient of an honorary doctorate.
As man who wears many hats, he was keen to bestow some of his professional wisdom to a crowd full of future leaders.
Wilkerson told the students that “talent, ambition and compassion are all attributes that are critical to their success, but not as separate traits.” (Credit: Tim Vitale, Utah State Today)
Wilkerson has certainly embodied this mantra throughout his various and far-reaching endeavors. Currently on the executive committee of Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and the national board of the Smithsonian Institute; formerly the president and executive committee member of New York City-based American Folk Art Museum, and a member of the Cornell Council (where he received his master’s and his doctorate in managerial economics); and president and founder of the E.L. Rose Land Conservancy – yes, you’re reading that correctly – and his professional career as an expert consultant in the realms of business and healthcare is far from over.
Further qualifying the benefit of a simultaneous presence of attributes, John told the students that
“Each attribute by itself is necessary but not sufficient for success. You have the opportunity to combine them and produce a better and just world while simultaneously building a great career.” (Credit: Tim Vitale, Utah State Today)
This helps explain why Wilkerson has maintained his multiple and diverse career path, and why he stressed the importance of constant reinvention during his speech. John’s newest reinvention through his involvement with the GPP comes out of his knowledge that the importance of meritocracy in America, and our vast exposure to good fortune as Americans, entitles us to make the world a better place in addition to pursuing successful careers.
Whether it’s fighting global poverty or focusing on another significant issue, he urged the students to share their gifts with the world so that others can open up similar doors of opportunity.
“Find the big social issues that resonate for you, commit to them and do your part to move our world onward and upward.” (Credit: Tim Vitale, Utah State Today)
Later on, Wilkerson, a business leader turned philanthropist, invited USU’s graduates to join him in our fight against poverty – and to realize that their unique advantages will empower them to empower others (Credit: Arrin Brunson, The Salt Lake Tribune).
We have the key; it’s just a matter of finding the door.
To read more about John’s keynote speech, visit:
http://www.usu.edu/ust/index.cfm?article=49724 - Utah State Today: University News, Tim Vitale
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/51770565-78/usu-galeano-wilkerson-graduates.html.csp - The Salt Lake Tribune, Arrin Newton Brunson
Blog prepared by Mia Schmidt, GPP US Intern