Newswise — It's just the kind of tough talk that one might expect from political commentator Chris Matthews: "If you want something, dammit, ask for it!"
Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," came to the University of South Carolina's commencement ceremony Friday (May 5) to share his thoughts on "getting where you want to get in life."
A former Peace Corps member, Capitol Hill cop and presidential speechwriter, Matthews hasn't always been the celebrity that most people know from watching television.
He attributes some of his success to street smarts.
"I know what I'm talking about," he told the more than 1,300 bachelor's and master's graduates and their families.
The political commentator, who also hosts NBC-TV's "The Chris Matthews Show," encouraged the graduates to stay up late at night "by yourself ... sit there alone and think and wonder. It's the time that dreams come to you."
To make those dreams happen, "get yourself in the game," which is Rule No. 1 for those who want to succeed, Matthews said.
And, though it's hard for many people, success comes to those who aren't afraid to ask, he said, and that is Rule No. 2.
"When you ask someone for help, you are really asking them to place a bet on you. The more people you get to bet on you, the larger your network of investors and the shorter your odds."
USC civil and environmental engineering graduate Melissa Campbell said her new master's degree should provide her with more opportunities in her career. Although balancing a career at the S.C. Department of Transportation with being a mother and student has had its challenges, Campbell said the hard work was well worth the effort.
"You have to position yourself to be ready to ask," she said.
Campbell was on the front row of USC's Colonial Center to see her daughter, Rebecca Campbell, receive her bachelor's degree in civil and environmental engineering.
"It's a milestone for both of us," she said.
Matthews was on the front row with USC's administrators and deans to see his wife, Kathleen Cunningham Matthews, receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. She will speak during commencement exercises at 10:30 a.m. Saturday when the second half of USC Columbia's bachelor's and master's candidates will receive their degrees.
Chris Matthews will be awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the ceremony.
USC recognized the achievements of the Rev. Charles Richard Stith, director of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University, with an honorary doctorate of humane letters. The former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, Stith is commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Earlier in the day, USC awarded 228 law degrees in a ceremony on the Horseshoe. Joseph F. Anderson Jr., chief judge of the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, and Mortimer Maxwell Caplin, a lawyer and educator, received honorary doctorates of law.
Dr. Paul Vincent DeMarco, a 1989 alumnus of the USC School of Medicine, spoke at the medical school commencement at the Koger Center. USC's medical school awarded 81 medical degrees.
Journalist to USC grads: In helping others, "... the world opens wide'."
Clyde Thomas Morgan of Lancaster and Bridget Morris of Andrews found themselves seated side by side at the University of South Carolina's commencement exercises on Saturday.
Different paths brought them to graduation day. For the 68-year-old Morgan, the bachelor's degree in history came 50 years after he first set foot on the Columbia campus, while Morris, a bachelor's degree recipient in psychology, was a more traditional student.
But the two have a common bond: Each knows the value of volunteering and service to their communities. By helping others, they already have found the joys that a life of service brings, the very life that USC commencement speaker Kathleen Cunningham Matthews advised the graduates to lead.
"With your arms wide open, the world opens wide," said Matthews, who shared the advice given to her by country singer Naomi Judd.
"Every time I've gotten involved in a charity or community cause, my world has expanded proportionately," said Matthews, a journalist, volunteer, community leader and wife of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" host.
Morgan left Carolina to open his business, the Lancaster Paint Center, and built a life that includes eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A church volunteer and a former member of the Jaycees and president of the Chamber of Commerce in Lancaster, Morgan said he discovered that a Jaycee creed had served him well throughout his life.
"Service to humanity is the best work of life," Morgan said. "We all need to be involved in our communities ... the world around us. There are so many needs for volunteers. You just have to find a way to help that suits you."
Morris said she left her hometown in Andrews and came to USC as a shy young woman. But volunteering for Habitat for Humanity changed her life. She became president of the student chapter for Habitat for Humanity in her sophomore year and has continued to work with the organization.
"Service was part of my personal growth," said Morris, who plans to pursue a master's degree in education and teach in elementary school. "Teaching is more of a service commitment than a job and something that I hope to continue."
Kathleen Matthews, who received an honorary doctorate of humane letters on Friday, watched her husband receive his honorary doctorate of humane letters on Saturday.
She encouraged the more than 1,500 bachelor's and master's graduates from USC's Columbia campus to take "the road less traveled ... .That's the lesson that I share today with you, to 'go for it.' "
Months ago, 15 business executives from Mexico took the road less traveled and became the first graduates Thursday of USC's Executive International MBA (EIMBA) program, a joint degree program between USC's Moore School of Business and the Instituto Techologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, known as "Tec de Monterrey" in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The 20-month program is for senior Mexican managers who continue to work while earning their degrees. Most of the students are employed by some of Mexico's largest businesses.
USC awarded 5,042 degrees during ceremonies at all campuses, including 3,924 degrees from Columbia.