ST. PETERSBURG — Businessman and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes invoked the names of Yogi Berra, Michael Dell, Sam Walton and the image of his grandfather as he told of the bright future that lies ahead for the 2009 Eckerd College graduates.
Even during the current economic climate, which "sucks," there is ample room for personal and business growth, Forbes told the 550 graduates Sunday morning at they sat in white chairs under a huge white tent with Boca Ciega Bay as the backdrop.
"The opportunities are there in bad times," Forbes said.
The chairman and chief executive officer of Forbes and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, Forbes sought the Republican nomination for president in 1996 and 2000. He was a financial adviser for Sen. John McCain.
Sunday, Forbes was the speaker for Eckerd's 46th commencement.
"Whether times are tough or prosperous, the key thing is to find what you are good at and what you have a knack at, and figure out how to make a living at it," Forbes said before delivering the graduation speech.
Forbes told the graduates that they were "on the cusp of another wave of innovation" and that there are "amazing things ahead" in technology.
Forbes encouraged the graduates to expect to fail because there will be setbacks; to expect serendipity; and to channel anger into action.
"Sometimes, you are going to have to put it all on the line," Forbes said.
Everything that's accomplished in life is not done before the age of 40, Forbes told the graduates, noting that the founder of McDonald's, Ray Kroc, was in his 50s when he started the chain. Forbes said Berra was right: "It ain't over until it's over."
Bob Albury knows that all too well. He has worked at Verizon for 37 years and managed to get his three daughters, the oldest 30, out of college. At 57 years old, Albury was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in creative writing degree Sunday.
"It's been a 20-year process," said Albury, of St. Petersburg. "I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college. It's something I've always wanted to do and it's an accomplishment."
Bridget Daumeyer, 34, of Tampa was also filled with joy, and her second child. Four years ago and pregnant with her daughter, Daumeyer decided to go back to college.
"I wanted to set the example for my children," said Daumeyer, who is eight months pregnant with a son. "It's something I've wanted to do for myself and for them."
Daumeyer said that in addition to being pregnant while in school, she worked full time at JPMorgan Chase as an assistant vice president managing automobile loan collections.
"If I was going to do it, I had to do it now," Daumeyer said of earning her business management degree with honors.
Mike Alvarez, 22, of Lutz was pleased to hear Forbes' message. Alvarez graduated Sunday with a degree in business administration with a minor in leadership.
"It was great that he gave us his firsthand experience of what we need to do as we head into the job market," said Alvarez, who has worked at Publix for two years and is seeking to get into its management training program. "It provided hope. I feel like there is a chance that we can get out there and make things happen."
News researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or [email protected]