Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Boyd Britt on Friday encouraged Troy University graduates to reach back and give back.
Britt addressed the nearly 675 graduates inside Trojan Arena on Friday as the keynote speaker for the Troy Campus commencement ceremony. In total, 25 U.S. states, 3 U.S. territories and 14 countries outside the United States are represented by this fall’s graduating class.
“No matter what your future role, our state, our nation and our world will be better because of you,” Britt said. “With each new success in life, you are given the ability to make a difference — use it wisely. Reach back and bring others with you. Help others succeed. Give somebody else a chance. It is not just about your path to success in life, but rather how you use it to impact those around you. Reach back and give back.”
Britt challenged graduates to be confident and to be self-aware.
“Be confident. You have learned more than you think. You are prepared for more than you realize and you are ready to take on life’s challenges,” she said. “It is the limitations that we put on ourselves that do the most damage. Don’t let your own insecurities limit you along your path to success. Be you – one of the greatest gifts we will ever receive is to be ourselves. Find what you care about, find your voice and make the difficult decisions that will lead to success.”
Britt encouraged graduates to celebrate their accomplishments, but also warned that the road forward will have its challenges.
“The road to success is seldom a straight path,” she said. “Life does not always go as plan, and many of life’s curves are not within your control. What is in your control is how you handle it. Each new opportunity brings new challenges and yet they also bring the opportunity for many new rewards. There were times when I’m sure some of you wanted to give up, but you persevered to reach today and for that you should celebrate.”
Finally, Britt encouraged graduates to continue to value diversity.
“You have learned during your time here at Troy University that listening is more important than judging,” she said. “Today’s job market not only needs diversity, but it demands it. It is imperative in today’s world that you prepare to compete globally in order to be successful in the 21st century.”
A native of Enterprise, Britt became BCA’s first female president and CEO – and its youngest – in January 2019. BCA is a statewide association that advocates for companies of all sizes throughout Alabama. Prior to that, she served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, after having practiced corporate law with Butler Snow in Birmingham and Montgomery.
She holds the distinction of being the youngest press secretary in the U.S. Senate, having served in that role and the role of deputy press secretary for Shelby prior to her joining Butler Snow, where she organized the firm’s Government Affairs practice in Alabama.
Also, during Friday’s ceremony, Troy University awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Gerald O. Dial, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, including two terms as President pro tempore of the board from 2011 to 2019. Dial holds the distinction of being one of the longest-serving members of the Alabama Legislature, serving in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1974 through 1982 and the Alabama Senate from 1983 until 2006, and again from 2010 until he left office in 2018.
The honorary degree serves as a tribute to “his devotion to his home state and nation, his leadership to the Troy University Board of Trustees and for setting a standard of public service excellence for all Alabamians to emulate.”