Buchanan: Return Your Talents and Blessings to Those Behind You

Kelley School of Business graduate Aaron Buchanan was awarded the J. Dwight Peterson Key Award at the 2015 commencement. The Peterson Key award is the most esteemed honor bestowed on a Kelley Indianapolis graduate. It is given annually to the outstanding senior on the basis of scholarship, extracurricular activities, leadership, and character. Aaron, a triple major in finance, supply chain, and international studies, addressed his fellow graduates at this year's ceremony.

Good Evening! I am truly humbled to receive this award from an institution as dear to my heart as the Kelley School of Business. God has been good in my life. He has blessed me with opportunities that I know are not of my hand.

First and foremost, I want to thank my mom and dad for their love and support; and for raising me with a strong Christian foundation. I would not be standing here this morning without them. None of my grandparents received an education beyond that of high school, and neither of my parents matriculated beyond an Associate’s Degree. Despite this, Mom and Dad were quick to instill the value of earning a solid education at a young age. I am truly blessed to have parents who have sacrificed so much to see me succeed.

I have had many outstanding faculty throughout these last four years, but one person has been especially impactful in my life. Maureen Kinney! Maureen does more for the students of Kelley than they will ever know! Over the last fpur years she has provided me with several opportunities above-and-beyond what I could have ever expected. I met Maureen on day one of my Kelley experience and am proud to finish my degree with her as my trusted adviser. Maureen has never shied away from giving me candid advice – After seeing the syllabus for a 300-level poli-sci gen ed, I was considering dropping the course, to which Maureen replied, “Suck it up and do the work, Aaron.” On another note, I had the privilege of scaring Maureen when I told her that Taylor Sidwell and I would be rapping this speech this evening!

It has been an incredible journey these past four years. I have stood on the floor of the NYSE and looked up at the gold ceilings, been at the Opening Bell at the NASDAQ, been to the 9/11 memorial, studied abroad in the heart of the University of Oxford, attended the National Character and Leadership Symposium at the United States Air Force Academy, competed in case competitions in Detroit, Chicago, and Bloomington, had the privilege of speaking with a United States General while stranded in Dallas/Ft. Worth, and so much more. I am very proud of my Kelley education – this is a very special place!

In closing, many students have asked me how I got to this point, so I would like to share some advice that I feel is applicable as we launch our careers. Someone once said it best when they noted that, “opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” Never pass an opportunity to be a servant-leader to those around you, and the institutions you care most about. In 2011, I was able to take a mission’s trip to the Lighthouse Children’s Home in Costa Rica. This life-changing experience allowed me to understand just how blessed I am. As a student at Kelley, you will be presented with opportunities far above those provided to the majority of the 7 billion people on this Earth. It is your responsibility to return your talents and blessings to those behind you.

So, decide now how important service to others and how important money is to you. You are graduating from Kelley, you’ve met the table stakes, but what will you do to raise yourself above the pack and contribute? Clarence Sexton once said, “The high road is not the choice between the good and the bad, but the good and the best.” Ask yourself if you are taking the high road, are you doing the best you can for yourself, for others, and for Kelley?

Thank you so much, and congratulations to each of you on your achievements!