Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill challenged graduates at Troy University to be prepared to overcome roadblocks to success and live a life of service to others.
His remarks came during the University’s summer commencement exercises Friday in Trojan Arena, where about 500 students participated in the ceremony representing 21 U.S. states and seven countries outside the United States.
“What I hope you will remember about today… is that it is important to live a life of significance. You have to decide that you want to live a life of service and that you want to be a servant,” he said.
“Be more committed to serving others than getting recognition for yourself,” he told the graduates.
Referencing a story about television personality Steve Harvey and an elementary school essay project, Merrill told that “every one of you will face trials and tribulations – bumps in the road that will cause you to stumble. What happens when you encounter these, and how you respond to them, says more about what you will become than the incident itself.”
“Respond in a positive way, and that puts you in a strong position to encourage others through their own trials and tribulations,” he said. “For whom will you make a difference?”
Merrill was elected the state’s 53rd Secretary of State in 2014, following a stint the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the Tuscaloosa area in District 62.
Listen to Merrill’s full speech: