The following is a graduation speech written by finalist Porter Sproul.
Get Out of Your Way
In the critically acclaimed movie Facing the Giants, there is a scene where a football coach, Grant Taylor, and his team are all resting on the sidelines at a stadium. Brock, one of the teammates, stated that they didn’t stand a chance at winning the game they would play that Friday.
It was at that moment that Coach Taylor was inspired. He called Brock and another player onto the field to complete a death crawl; a drill where someone gets down on their hands and the tips of their toes and carries another on their back for a set distance. This time, however, instead of giving a set distance for Brock to complete, Coach Taylor told him to do his absolute best and to give it everything he had.
Knowing that Brock would give up as soon as he reached a certain point, Coach Taylor blindfolded him for the drill. As Brock struggled down the field, he felt the ache in his muscles grow into a burning sensation that made him want to give up, but he didn’t- he knew he could at least make it to the 30-yard mark.
He continued clawing his way forward, clinging to nothing but raw drive and ambition.
As Brock began feeling ready to give up, his coach got down on his own hands and knees and began yelling words of encouragement, “You give it your best, keep going, you do not give up, it is all heart from here.”
When finally, Brock collapsed from exhaustion he let out a muffled exclamation, “that’s gotta be 50, I don’t have any more.”
Removing his blindfold, Coach Taylor triumphantly said to his player, “Look up, Brock, you’re in the end zone.”
Now I know what most of you are probably thinking, “I never, ever, thought I’d hear Porter Sproul make a reference to sports, let alone know what a yard-line or end zone was.”
If Brock had not been blindfolded and was able to see how far he was going he would have limited himself to the 20 or 30 yards he believed he was capable of, when in reality he was able to make it 100 yards. It is our lack of belief in ourselves that makes it all the more difficult for us to rise to our greatest potential. If Einstein, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, George Washington and many others never pushed themselves passed the 20, 30 and 50 yard-line on the field of life, our world would be vastly different.
There are many experiences that make a difference in our own lives. I want to share a phrase with you that is near and dear to my heart, and has become one of my life mantras. This phrase was a gift from my grandfather during my freshman year here, at SUU. It is one of the most precious gifts I have ever received because he spoke these words to me when he took up residence in a cold, dark hospital room. It was the last time I would see him before he passed away. Before I left, he pulled me close and whispered to me, “Porter, I am so proud of you. You are happy and doing amazing things with your life. You have the capability to change the world and be so much more than you can possibly imagine. Just make sure to never get in the way of your happiness. Get out of your way.” Get out of your way. I made a promise to myself that day that I would always push myself to be more than what I thought I was capable of- to live for today but also push for a better tomorrow.
Each one of us has the potential to make contributions to society in ways we can only dream of... right now, anyway. One day those dreams will become a reality. Walt Disney said it best, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Plain and simple. So then, why not be the one who invents the flying car. Why not sell out a world tour, or have your art hanging in the Louvre one day. Why not be the one to discover the cure for cancer, aids and heart disease. Why not travel the world, make ground-breaking research in your field, or open the next world renowned restaurant. Why not push past the fear that holds us back- get out of your way. It’s only by following your dreams that you will make it to your life’s end zone.
There may be days when you get up in the morning and things aren’t the way you had hoped they would be. That’s when you have to tell yourself that things will get better. Remember to believe in yourself and all you want your life to be- get out of your way and make it to your end zone. Because those challenges and changes will only help you to fulfill the dreams that you know are meant to come true for you.
According to scientists, the bumblebee's body is too heavy and its wing span too small. Aerodynamically, the bumblebee cannot fly. But the bumblebee doesn't know that and it keeps right on flying anyway. When you don't know your limitations, you go out and surprise yourself. In hindsight, you wonder if you ever had any limitations at all. The only limitations we have are those that are self-imposed. Our daily lives are affected by the way we view ourselves and the world around us.
Graduation is not our end zone or our 50 yard-line, but rather the 30 yard-line; we can still go a further distance. We are all capable of so much more and it is up to us to rise to our greatest potential. Yes, it’s true that we must rely on hard work and determination to help us attain our dreams, but it is equally imperative that we realize that asking for help along the way is not admitting to defeat. The truth is, we never do anything alone- nor should we want to. If we had to go through the rest of our lives alone, we would lose our purpose and our way. People who support each other are stronger and far more successful because the stakes are higher; we have others depending on us who want to see us succeed. We are striving for greatness because our actions and accomplishments affect more than ourselves. No one ever received recognition or won an award, who didn’t greatly affect the lives of those around them.
Look around, these people are here for us- for you! Our families, friends, the faculty and staff, and our fellow classmates have all gathered together in a celebration of us, the SUU graduating class of 2016. This is no small feat, and it is made up of individual accomplishments from each of you, accomplishments that make our graduating class unique and powerful. We couldn’t have done this without the support of everyone gathered here. We have people in this room who have believed in us our whole lives, and who will continue to believe in us until we reach our end zone. I have been greatly blessed to be a part of such an amazing institution. I have made lifelong friendships that will withstand the decay of time, friendships which developed in and out of the classroom. I have been given incredible opportunities to grow and learn who I am, and who I want to become. I am a proud Thunderbird.
Be grateful for the time that we have spent at Southern Utah University and the memories we have shared. Be excited for the future; it is a blank canvas, and we are the artist. This life is a beautiful thing to be living, and every day is a gift. Don’t waste it. If we wait until we are ready to follow our dreams, then we will be waiting for the rest of our lives. Believe in yourself, get out of your way.
Congratulations, class of 2016, we did it!
Porter Sproul is a Strategic Communication major from Las Vegas, Nevada. When he arrived at SUU he decided that he wanted to make the most of his experiences in college, and joined many prestigious on campus organizations. These include: the Sigma Chi Fraternity, SUU Orientation, SUUSA, multiple honors societies, and was a Special Events Intern for the SUU Alumni and Community Relations office. Though he held many positions of leadership during his time here, he said his favorite occupation was that of student. "I think it's amazing to see that a regular student, like myself, can have such an impact," he said. "I hope people will see the things I was able to accomplish and realize they have just as much potential to affect the people around them as I did."
Porter will be moving to Salt Lake City after graduation to work for the Huntsman Cancer Institute as a member of their development team.