University School of Jackson

Headnotes: 3 Words, 3 Truths, 3 Pieces of Advice

Class of 2021 Commencement Address


3 Words, 3 Truths, 3 Pieces of Advice


3 Words:




I have a tremendous affinity for them separately, as well as when combined as one.


University: Latin for a community of teachers and scholars. Having been around for a thousand years, the university has grown thousands of minds by advancing inquiry, research, freedom of thought, and rigor.


School: I love every component of it - history lectures, recess, science labs, spelling bees, soccer practices, study halls, hot rolls from the cafeteria, musical productions, and even homework! I started at four years old, and I have never left school.


Jackson: Only 200 years old thus almost brand new, my birthplace, hometown, and my favorite place to be. It is where I was educated, fell in love with my wife, where my son was born. Wherever you end up, no one should ever be ashamed of Jackson, Tennessee, or the United States, for that matter. I am proud of who we are, where we are from, and who we will become.


Altogether, the University School of Jackson stands as a special place filled with dedicated people. You will forever hold cherished memories, take valuable lessons, and be proud of USJ.


3 Truths:


One - It’s not about you. This may be a hard pill to swallow. How is that possible in a year of senior breakfast, senior walk, senior recognitions, senior privileges, and senior nights? Well, you now cease to be seniors, and USJ sends you to begin. And you need to understand that everything we have done here is to grow you, not for you, but for you to make an impact on the world. Not to be a doctor, but to heal others. Not to be successful in business, but to provide goods or services that improve the lives of others, not to be a teacher, but to grow others. You are learning and growing so you can serve your fellow man. It’s not about you.


Two - The world needs you. You have an integral role to play. This is not graduation hyperbole, but fact. God has a purpose for you. The world has been arranged so that every person has been given a life task. Our world needs thoughtful, energetic, educated, caring citizens with integrity to work, serve, and lead. This falls on you. Do not wait for someone else to do it. It is not someone else’s job. This is your life, our world, and you are here for a reason. The world needs you.


Three - Because of this, everything you do matters. Details matter. Today matters. Life is made up of “todays,” so take advantage of the opportunity. Every rep matters. Every mile matters. Every book matters. Every class, lesson, meeting, and relationship matters. Learn something, do something, build something today — everything you do matters.


It’s not about you, but the world needs you. So everything you do matters.


3 Pieces of Advice:


One - Be on time. One lesson in life is that you must be present to win. One of the most important lessons we can model and teach our children is showing up daily. Go to school and to work every day. When you don’t feel like it, when uninspired, on Monday morning, on the Friday before spring break. So much of success is consistently showing up. And this means punctually.


Disrespecting the time of others is the ultimate display of being inconsiderate. You see, few things are more valuable than time. We have all heard the colloquial phrase “Time is money.” It is not. We can make more money. We cannot make another minute. Do not ask another to spend their most valuable asset waiting on you. Be on time.


Two - Smile - Whatever you do, do it with a positive attitude. No one wants to be around someone with a poor countenance. Live your life well, do your best, be kind, and do so with a great attitude. Smile.


And Three - Do more than what is required. If asked to do six reps, knock out eight. A forty-hour workweek? Let’s work forty-four. Four-mile run? Let’s go five. Doing the minimum will not cut it. Doing only what is required will result in mediocrity at best. And that is far short of the standard of excellence by which we, as Bruins, live. 


Just think of one who would always follow those three pieces of advice, being prompt with a great attitude and doing more. Would one not benefit from having such an employee, boss, friend, spouse, or brother?


Be on time. Smile. Do more than what is required. Because it isn’t about you. The world needs you, so everything you do matters.


University School of Jackson seniors: You have made us proud, and we are proud of you. I love you, and I am eager to live in a world in which you are dedicated to serving and improving.


Thank you, and Go Bruins! 


Don Roe

Head of School   

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