Business leader shares life lessons with VCU’s newest graduates
University Public Affairs
During fall commencement ceremonies today, Thomas G. Snead, Jr., a former member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors, shared life lessons from his own experiences to challenge VCU’s newest graduates as they prepare for life after college.
Snead, former VCU rector, told graduates of his humble beginnings in a poor tobacco farming family in rural Virginia that eventually saw him in the roles of president and later CEO and chairman of the board of Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield. He also served as president and CEO of the Southeast Region for WellPoint Inc.
He imparted to graduates five lessons he picked up in his journey. He told them of the importance of hard work and doing the right thing; of going for it once they've found their niche; of keeping an open mind to opportunities that might appear at first blush to be unattractive; of placing a high value on family; and of giving back to their communities and the schools that educated them.
“There is absolutely no substitute for hard work, even when it’s not enjoyable,” Snead said. “Always do your best.”
Snead, a VCU alumnus, has a long history of community service and is a longtime supporter of VCU. In 2007, the Board of Visitors named the new School of Business building in honor of Snead and his wife, Vicki M. Snead, who served as co-chairs of the Campaign for VCU, an effort that raised $410 million. On Saturday he received an honorary doctor of humane letters.
Students received professional, graduate and undergraduate degrees at the ceremony at the VCU Siegel Center. Approximately 1,600 students attended the ceremony, and about 3,000 degrees were conferred.
VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., called on graduates to use their VCU education to become leaders in their fields of study and to help other people.
“That is your highest and best calling,” Rao said. “Through education, we develop our greatest abilities. Through our greatest abilities, we achieve what was once believed impossible. Through our achievements, we create opportunities where they never existed.”
For a photo gallery with scenes from commencement, visit http://pictures.vcu.edu/collections/index.html#num=6098&id=album-119.