Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Chris+Gardner
Courtesy of Tallahassee Democrat
Chris Gardner

Marshall’s upcoming spring commencement graduates will hear from a man who went from struggling with homelessness to being a CEO.

Chris Gardner, author of the bestseller “The Pursuit of Happyness,” will be giving the keynote address at the Spring 2024 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, April 27. 

Gardner currently serves as CEO of Gardner Rich LLC, an investment banking firm based in Chicago, Illinois. He has also authored two other books, “Permission to Dream” and “Start Where You Are.”

“The Pursuit of Happyness” was also made into a 2006 movie starring Will Smith.

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Doubling as a motivational speaker, his life mission is to help others turn their lives into a success story.

“The first and most important decision that I ever made in my life was that my children would always know who their father was,” he said on his website. “Without knowing the names, circumstances, social or social conditions, I consciously chose to break every cycle that I was born into. Child abandonment, child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, fear, poverty and illiteracy.”

Inspiring people– as well as pouring into himself– is a top priority for Gardner.

“A very big part of what I want to do with the rest of my life is simple; I want to help create the next ‘Chris Gardner,’” he said. “The message is equally simple; if I can do this, then you can do that.”

University President Brad Smith is anticipating Marshall to hear from Gardner, saying his message is needed and profound to new graduates. 

“Chris Gardner embodies the spirit of Marshall University,” Smith said in a news release. “His personal story, professional accomplishments, grace and compassion resonate deeply with our mission to educate students, many of whom are from overlooked and underserved communities.”

Both ceremonies will hear from Gardner. Graduates from the colleges of business, medicine, aviation, engineering and computer science, education and science will celebrate at 9 a.m. Saturday, followed by the colleges of health professions, arts and media, liberal arts and pharmacy at 2 p.m.

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