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Monday, 13 December, 2010 5:38 PM

Magic Johnson speaks at Michigan State University fall commencement ceremony

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. delivers the commencement address at Michigan State University on Dec. 11, 2010.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. was a point guard for MSU who later went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. The five-time NBA Champion is the son of a General Motors assembly worker and a school custodian. Johnson is now the Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises and the Chairman and Founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation, Inc. He addressed graduates at the morning commencement ceremony for baccalaureate degrees. Johnson received an honorary degree from MSU in the category of business.

Johnson grew up in Lansing, Mich. and his idols were basketball players Earl Monroe and Marques Haynes. He was given the nickname "Magic" after he recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds and 16 assists where he played basketball at Everett High School. Lansing State Journal Sports Writer Fred Stabley Jr. gave him that nickname. He led Lansing Everett to a 27-1 record while averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds per game.

"Wow, let me say that God is so good," Johnson said in his commencement address. "I cannot believe that coming through these doors in 1978 having a chance to be a Spartan to lead our incredible university to the national championship in 1979. To come full circle to become a doctor at the university that I love, this is just incredible. I say congratulations. I want you to be about more than making money. I want you to reach back and give back to your community and touch that community in a positive way."

Johnson added: "I don't want you to worry about the things you can't control. Only worry about the things you can control. For example, you can't control if your boss will like you or not. But you can control if your boss respects you or not. How can you do that? By being the first one to work and being the last one to leave. By being self-motivated by bringing passion and excitement to your job. By adding value to the company that you work for. By making yourself indispensable at that company."

He became the Los Angeles Lakers' first overall draft pick in 1979. Then, Johnson led the team to the NBA Championship in 1980. It was the first of five that he would win with the Lakers. In addition, Johnson applied his determination to win at basketball even though he battled with HIV. He was the co-captain of the undefeated U.S. Olympic "Dream Team," which won a gold medal in 1992. Johnson has used his status as a public figure to increase awareness and raise money for HIV research.

"If you do those things, you will be an unbelievable worker at the place that you get your job or start your career," the five-time NBA champion explained. "What does Spartans stand for? Well, the 'S' to me stands for successful. 'P' stands for prepared. 'A' stands for ambitious. 'R' stands for ready. 'T' stands for trust. 'A' stands for artistic. 'N' stands for newsworthy. Make sure you are up on that board if they have Employee of the Week or Employee of the Month. Make sure that you're one of them. If they have a newsletter, meaning that you've done something great, make sure you're in that newsletter."

Leonard Slatkin is the music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO). He was appointed to that role in 2008. Previously, Slatkin served as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra and was the guest conductor of the world's leading orchestras. In addition, he was nominated for more than 50 Grammy Awards and was awarded seven. Slatkin is the founder and director of the National Conducting Institute. He invited MSU students to attend DSO rehearsals. Slatkin and other DSO members provide music instruction at MSU's Detroit facility. He also received an honorary degree from MSU in the category of fine arts.

"I am deeply honored and touched to receive this degree from all of you today," Slatkin said in his commencement address. "Looking out, I'm reminded of when I graduated from the Julliard School of Music. With my Bachelor's degree I was all set to go into the Master's program and then I was offered a job. It's a little different in the music business then for most. Our path is not so clear. Sometimes it could take 15 or 20 years before we achieve our very first goal. If that job comes soon, take it."

Slatkin added: "Pieces of paper tell us what we've accomplished in our academic lives. It's hard to say what it does in our creative life. Those of us who choose teaching have the most admiration from all of us performers. You are those who inspire the next generations. For those of you who are not musicians, I hope you have made music a part of your life. There's no greater particular spirit and feeling that comes from recreating ideas that have passed along from generation to generation. Music serves all of us. No matter what form it comes."

Commencement ceremonies were held Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, One Birch Road. Economic sciences laurete Elinor Ostrom spoke at the evening ceremony on Dec. 10. General Electric Chairman Jeff Immelt spoke at the afternoon ceremony on Dec. 11. The commencement ceremony for law degrees will be held on Friday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Spectators are finding their seats inside the Breslin Center just before the ceremony began.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The MSU Jazz Orchestra I performed the processional song "Be-Bop Spartans."

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Tamara C. Mayers, a Master's degree student in Jazz Studies, performed the Star Spangled Banner.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Students walk to find their seats for the commencement ceremony.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

These students would later become graduates from MSU at the end of the ceremony.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

 

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