Today, High Point University honored all undergraduates from the Class of 2021. A ceremony that honored the Class of 2020, whose graduation was delayed due to the pandemic, was held yesterday. Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall delivered both Commencement addresses.
HIGH POINT, N.C., May 8, 2021 – Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall encouraged High Point University’s Class of 2021 to live life as if the ball is always in their court.
“I need everyone, including our graduate honorees, to look at someone and tell them, ‘Neighbor, the ball is in your court,’” said Marshall. “I grew up in a Pentecostal church. We were noisy, we were loud and we had lots of neighbors. So find someone else, smile and tell them, “Neighbor, the ball is in your court.”
Today, High Point University conferred nearly 1,200 degrees to the Class of 2021. Yesterday, a ceremony was held to honor the Class of 2020, whose graduation was delayed due to the pandemic. Marshall delivered both Commencement addresses to the graduates and nearly 10,000 of their family members. HPU transformed the Commencement ceremony to provide outdoor distancing so that each graduate could have up to six guests.
Marshall shared with the crowd her wisdom and life experiences, from building her career at AT&T North Carolina and AT&T nationally, to becoming the first Black woman to serve as the CEO of an NBA team.
As an obvious sports enthusiast and HPU’s Sports Executive in Residence, Marshall’s insights were filled with basketball analogies, such as knowing how to handle the ball on the court of life and knowing your position on the court.
“Handle the ball with character,” Marshall said to the graduates and their family members. “Don’t cheat. Always tell the truth. Your integrity is not for sale. Do the right thing. There is a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. You have been taught how to do both.”
“Be mindful of your position on the court,” she added. “You have a distinct role to play in advancing the ball for society. Give of your time, talent and treasure. You might be the one who gets to sit and teach a third grader how to read, giving your time in ways that you hadn’t anticipated. Or maybe you’re the one with the skills and abilities to mobilize people to address a national crisis, putting your premier life skills and talents to great use.”
HPU President Nido Qubein also addressed the audience and their family members, reminding graduates that HPU remained committed to preparing them for the future and celebrating their achievements throughout the pandemic.
“Today is a very special day in the lives of our graduates and their families,” Qubein said. “We are proud of you and your accomplishments and have no doubt that you will be extraordinary ambassadors for High Point University as you move on to the next phase of your life’s journey… Yes, your university believes in you. Yes, graduates, your university found a way to make it possible for six of your family members to be with you here today.”
Paul Calkins, Class of 2021 Senior Class President, emphasized the silver lining of a challenging year.
“Graduates, it definitely hasn’t been a normal year, but we were able to make new traditions,” said Calkins. “We saw the best in our High Point family. The root of all learning and growth is your family – it doesn’t have to be your relatives. Family is found in your community. And this family that you have created at High Point – it’s not temporary, it will last a lifetime. And we must always remember those who were there for us when we needed their encouragement the most.”
Additional Highlights from the High Point University Commencement speech of Cynt Marshall, CEO of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
“This sixth and final part of this lesson is in the form of a call to action. PLAY THIS GAME OF LIFE LIKE A GROWN-UP. Look at someone and tell them, ‘It’s time to be GROWN.’ My version of GROWN, G-R-O-W-N, means this:
- represents ‘Be grateful.’
- represents ‘Be ready.’
- represents ‘Be open.’
- represents ‘Be wise.’
- represents ‘Be nice.’
Look at someone and tell them, ‘It’s time to be GROWN.’
So, graduates, the ball is in your court. In closing: Always keep good company. Give of your time, talent, and treasure. Know your crystal balls from your rubber balls. Do the right thing. Rebound with grace. And be G.R.O.W.N. – grateful, ready, open, wise, and nice.”