Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Trent H. Edwards, Director of MGMWERX, encouraged Troy University graduates to inspire others and work together to make the world a better place.
Edwards delivered the keynote address during Monday night’s commencement ceremony for the more than 180 graduates from the University’s Montgomery Campus. The ceremony was held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center.
Edwards told graduates the commencement ceremony marked a beginning rather than an ending.
“This is the beginning, not the end,” he said. “We now need you to apply your knowledge and expertise to inspire others to make ourselves, our communities and the world a better place to live, work and play. We need you now more than ever. You are not the next generation of leaders, you are the ‘now’ generation of leaders.”
Edwards used the word wow to highlight three concepts that are vital to success – What if, Optimism and Work Ethic.
“I challenge you to continually ask ‘what if?’ You see, what if is about imagination – it is the ability to imagine something greater. It is how all great innovation happens. History is littered with big thinkers who asked ‘what if?’ Just like those who went before you, you too can help write a new chapter for the world by asking ‘what if?’ and having the fortitude to see it through.”
Optimism plays an important role in the journey toward success, Edwards said.
“We need your optimism,” he said. “By working together, we can accomplish great things. Surround yourselves with others who can help you learn and grow and offer you encouragement in a ‘what if’ world. I make the challenge to you to make the commitment to each other and to the community to optimistically work shoulder to shoulder to make our communities and our world a better place.”
Edwards told graduates that pairing optimism with a strong work ethic increases the likelihood of achieving success in life.
“The right work ethic will force you to stretch and challenge yourself. It can be scary, and quite frankly, it can be uncomfortable,” he said. “You have to expand your personal and professional boundaries and be willing to learn about yourself and others. Be bold and courageous in your pursuit of excellence. You can change lives, communities and the world.”
As Director of MGMWERX, Edwards oversees administration, programs, and strategic plans. In addition to overseeing programs, he also upholds fiscal integrity and the terms of the Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA), a contract between DEFENSEWERX, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the Commander, Air University (AU) to facilitate academic and professional opportunities for furthering education and civilian collaboration.
Edwards previously served as Senior Vice President for Military and Community Development at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce where he was responsible for developing public-private partnerships between the military and local communities to enhance economic, business, workforce development and job opportunities in the River Region.