Houston County Commission Chairman Brandon Shoupe gave Troy University graduates pieces of advice on how to attain and protect their joy during the commencement address on Sunday, May 21 at the Dothan Civic Center.
Speaking to over 100 graduates from the University’s Dothan Campus, Shoupe congratulated the graduates for their accomplishments before revealing his first piece of advice: don’t go to work every day doing something that makes you miserable.
“Looking at the number of graduates we have today, I can go ahead and predict that some of you are going to get out in the workforce and figure out maybe you’ve got the wrong degree. And that’s okay,” he said. “The fact that you’ve strived for years to obtain the degree that you have means as much to potential employers as the words printed on that degree. Don’t think of yourself as a failure, think of it as part of your story that maybe you’ll one day recount at something like this.”
He also spoke on the idea of disconnecting to reconnect and how letting go is the key to unlocking joy.
“As much as possible, stay off social media. We compare ourselves to the highlight reels of everyone else, and you do not deserve to compare yourself to others in that way,” he said. “The person sitting next to you did not start at the same place you did. You’re all here today. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s.
“I’ve also learned over the years that the most miserable people I know are the people who can’t let go of anything. How can you go forward in life when you have all this stuff weighing you down? You can’t. Learn how to forgive each other and yourself.”
Shoupe said despite his status as a politician, he cautions against watching the national news.
“The national news is not there to inform you. It is there to infuriate you and monetize you as you click and share,” he said. “The news tries to make every problem in the world seem like it is yours to solve, but I promise you it is not. If you are not paying for something, like the news, you are the product that is being sold.”
Lastly, Shoupe warned the graduates that every blessing comes with a burden and to not live their lives according to the expectations of others.
“I’m not saying you should ignore well-intended advice. The people in the stands are your parents, your family, your friends—they’re cheering you on,” he said. “But you also have your enemies, and that’s part of life. You have to look at yourself in the mirror every day, so be comfortable with the decisions that you make.
“If you can do all of these things, you will be a joyful person, and when you’re a joyful person you’ll be much more successful and happier than you can possibly imagine.”
Prior to his role as Chairman, Shoupe previously served eight years as the District 4 Commissioner. As Chairman, he administers the day-to-day operations of Houston County and works to grow the economy by making smart investments in infrastructure and quality-of-life initiatives.
In 2018, he was appointed by Governor Ivey to represent the 2nd Congressional District on the board of the Alabama School of Cybertechnology & Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama. He currently serves on the executive committee of that organization. In 2023, the school will graduate its first class of Sentinels—many of which will become part of America’s next generation of cyber warriors.
Shoupe is also the owner of a small company that has investments in two internet-based businesses. He and his family attend Covenant Methodist Church in Dothan.