Riley challenges graduates to discover their passion, continue to pursue knowledge

Jackson Hospital President and CEO Joe B. Riley addresses graduates at the Montgomery Campus during fall commencement on Dec. 18.

Jackson Hospital President and CEO Joe B. Riley addresses graduates at the Montgomery Campus during fall commencement on Dec. 18.

Jackson Hospital President and CEO Joe B. Riley encouraged Troy University graduates to discover their ‘why’ and pursue it with passion and vigor.

Speaking to nearly 150 graduates in the Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts at TROY’s Montgomery Campus on Dec. 18, Riley congratulated graduates on reaching this milestone in their lives and encouraged them to continue to embrace the resilience it took to reach that point.

“I can recall on a personal level and imagine all the sacrifices you made to find yourself here this evening – work commitments, family commitments, all of life’s events – and you pushed through,” he said. “Your resilience, that spirit of looking adversity in the eye and pushing forward, carried you through. You made it. Keep cultivating that relationship with resilience. You will need that steady companion every step, every day of your life.”

Remembering his own journey, Riley challenged graduates to find their passion – their ‘why.’

“Finding your ‘why’ may not be marked by fireworks or that great ‘aha’ moment. It most likely will be gradual and may even be or feel accidental,” he said. “Forty-plus years ago, I’m this young man, a little lost with a few setbacks and no clear path. I was working and doing all the right things, I thought – going to college, searching for my ‘why’ and I didn’t even realize I was searching. I literally stumbled on an opportunity as a pharmacy technician in a hospital in my hometown not knowing I was just about to discover my ‘why.’ I absolutely fell in love with life inside the walls of that hospital and the whole concept of caring for those in need. I knew without a shadow of doubt that I wanted to be a big part of that life. I didn’t know at what capacity at that time, I just knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Riley credited those who mentored him along the way and how they helped to propel him in his career.

“One specific example of what having a great mentor can mean and what I think propelled my career was being encouraged to find a more clinical path and to better understand why a hospital exists,” he said. “It became very clear to me in a short time that the caregivers in the hospital were the essence of why hospitals exist – to care for those in need. I chose the path of a Registered Nurse, and all the experiences that allowed me, along with my advanced degrees, led me to where I am today, my ‘why’ – the CEO of a community hospital with a mission to serve all our communities.”

Riley encouraged graduates to continue to pursue knowledge throughout their lives.

“On that journey of discovering your ‘why,’ keep that continual thirst of knowledge, the path of the eternal student,” he said. “Not the pressure-packed student seeking a formal education, but the more real-life challenges that will put you in places and offer experiences for personal and professional growth. Our world is in desperate need of thirsty individuals, by which I mean, heroes like yourself who continually thirst for knowledge, growth and building a better place for you, for me, for our families, and for all those who will follow.

“Resilience – cultivate it. Knowledge – seek it along every step. Growth – embrace it, challenge it. Resilience, knowledge and growth, embrace all three. Then you will become what you were meant to be, a person with passion, a force for positive change and success.”