Habitat's CEO challenges Ole Miss grads to pursue purpose

The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss.

The chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International has challenged University of Mississippi graduates to “pursue purpose, and not just success” as their collegiate careers end and they enter their varied professions.

Posted: May 2, 2021 6:41 AM

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International on Saturday challenged University of Mississippi graduates to “pursue purpose, and not just success” as their collegiate careers end and they enter their varied professions.

Jonathan T.M. Reckford gave the Convocation address to about 10,000 people gathered at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Ole Miss for the 168th Commencement, the university said in a news release.

He told the more than 5,000 graduates to “consider the really important matters” as they answer questions like “Who are you?" and “How will you define success?” and “How will you find your purpose?”

“Ultimately success will not be measured by what you’ve achieved, but by who you are, by your character,” Reckford said. “Studies have shown that there is very little correlation between wealth and happiness. You can be rich in so many ways. Service is a doorway by which we enter so many positive places together. In my experience, serving others and connecting to something larger than ourselves is where we find true joy.”

Chancellor Glenn Boyce, in his introduction, noted Reckford's service to the nation and his accomplishments as a humanitarian, describing him as a distinguished leader in the nonprofit and corporate worlds.

“As our graduates take the next step in their journey, I know they will be inspired by the keen insight he’s gained as head of a global organization that exemplifies the notion of servant leadership,” Boyce said.

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries, according to his website. The organization says it has helped more than 35 million people with improved living conditions since 1976.

Reckford said the graduates have learned about much more than academics.

“During the pandemic, you figured out new ways of doing things. You discovered an appreciation of the ordinary,” he said. “The shared experiences of COVID-19 have brought us closer together even as we’ve been physically separated. We’ve developed a deep empathy for those we love and found a calling to help those we’ve never met.”

Reckford said the commencement ceremony was his first in-person event since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

“I am thrilled to be able to offer you my congratulations,” he said. “This is a great moment for you and your families. This clearly wasn’t the senior year that any of you had imagined or planned, but you are a very resilient group of college students who faced the challenges of remote learning, interrupted social lives and a daunting job market.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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