My fellow job seekers: I am honored to be among the first to congratulate you on completing your years at North Carolina A&T. But all of you should know: as Mother's Daygifts go, this one is going to be tough to beat in the years ahead.
The purpose of a commencement speaker is to dispense wisdom. But the older I get, the more I realize that the most important wisdom I've learned in life has come from my mother and my father. Before we go any further, let's hear it one more time for your mothers and mother figures, fathers and father figures, family, and friends in the audience today.
When I first received the invitation to speak here, I was the CEO of an $80 billion Fortune 11 company with 145,000 employees in 178 countries around the world. I held that job for nearly six years. It was also a company that hired its fair share of graduates from North Carolina A&T. You could always tell who they were. For some reason, they were the ones that had stickers on their desks that read, "Beat the Eagles."
But as you may have heard, I don't have that job anymore. After the news of my departure broke, I called the school, and asked: do you still want me to come and be your commencement speaker?
Chancellor Renick put my fears to rest. He said, "Carly, if anything, you probably have more in common with these students now than you did before." And he's right. After all, I've been working on my resume. I've been lining up my references. I bought a new interview suit. If there are any recruiters here, I'll be free around 11.
I want to thank you for having me anyway. This is the first public appearance I've made since I left HP. I wanted very much to be here because this school has always been set apart by something that I've believed very deeply; something that takes me back to the earliest memories I have in life.
One day at church, my mother gave me a small coaster with a saying on it. During my entire childhood, I kept this saying in front of me on a small desk in my room. In fact, I can still show you that coaster today. It says: "What you are is God's gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God."