Kelly Lawler, Class of 2022 Student Commencement Speaker

May 10, 2022

SPCS Commencement

Kelly Lawler, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies graduate, was selected by the full-time faculty to present remarks on behalf of students at the SPCS 2022 Commencement ceremony

Kelly Lawler, graduating with a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies  from the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies, was selected by faculty to present remarks on behalf of graduating SPCS students at 2022 Commencement Exercises on May 7, 2022.

In his speech, reproduced below, Lawler encouraged fellow graduates to do the small things right, before they take on the big things, and to be a good human being before any profession.

Video Address

Starts at Dean Wilson’s introduction of Lawler as speaker.

Commencement Address

Good Morning Spiders, what a great day here on the most beautiful university campus in all of Virginia. Before I get started, I invite my fellow graduates to join me in a round of applause for our support team of faculty, staff, family and friends for getting us here today.

President Hallock, Dean Wilson, Dr. Legro, alumni, honored guests, faculty and staff, family and fellow graduates of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies... good morning and thank you for joining us in this day of celebration. We made it.

My name is Kelly Lawler, Educational Leadership and Policy Certificate holder. Additionally I carry the title of Colonel, United States Army Retired. I am honored to have been selected as your student graduation speaker today. I pinched myself earlier to make sure I was not dreaming…. I was not.

Over the years, I have learned two simple lessons. The first: do the small things right, before you take on the big things. Second, be a good human being before any profession.

Four star Adm. (Retired) Bill McCraven made one of my favorite graduation speeches; his theme was if you want to change the world, you must begin each day by ensuring that you first learn how to make your bed, a relatively small task but an important one. That way no matter how bad your day goes, you come home to a bed that is made, that you made.

My experiences and life journey have shown me numerous times that to be the best professional soldier, educator or in any chosen profession, being a good human being is where it all must start.  To be good human beings we must continually ask ourselves these three questions:

  • Do I effectively communicate with everyone?
  • Do I use common sense?
  • And, above all, do I treat others the way I want to be treated?

Practicing these life lessons... doing the small tasks right and being a good human being throughout my leadership and academic journey has enabled me to stand before and with you today. Thank you again to the leadership of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Let us all be good human beings and don’t forget to make your bed. 

Thank you and good luck!

Over the years, I have learned two simple lessons. The first: do the small things right, before you take on the big things. Second, be a good human being before any profession.
Kelly Lawler

SPCS Commencement Speaker

Biographical Sketch

Kelly Lawler is earning a graduate certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. Kelly retired from the U.S. Army in March of 2018 after 30 years of service. He is currently a social studies teacher at Falling Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. While in the Army, Kelly's assignments included Chief of the Mission Support Branch in the Operations Directorate on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, where he provided recommendations to Senior Leaders on Logistics. He has been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Superior Service, United States Army Legion of Merit (twice), and the Bronze Star (three times). He was also awarded the Combat Action Badge twice.