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CU Class of 2024 are influencers

Members of Cameron University’s Class of 2024 are influencers. That’s the message imparted by Commencement speaker Natalie Shirley, a member of the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University Regents, on Saturday, May 4 in Aggie Gym.

Shirley explained that there are different types of leaders, including opinion leaders – or what we know more colloquially on social media as “influencers.”

“I would argue that an influencer touches or reaches more people than a traditional leader because of the organic way influence grows,” Shirley said. She provided two examples from her life.

While visiting a sandwich shop, one of the employees said to her, “You always make us feel so good because you are always smiling.”

“The fact is that my attitude and my smile was contagious and the sandwich people were passing it on,” Shirley recounted. “I had influenced their behavior without even trying. Your reach, your sphere of influence is likely broad and deep. How you present yourself, whether it is with confidence or stopped shoulders; a smile or a frown; your dress or speech impact others around you. And how you spend your time, the goals you have set and how you view your future impact those closest to you.”

Shirley was the first person in her family to attend college and was proud to relate that her siblings followed.

“The reality is that you have tremendous power and sway over those around you ... You going to college, you succeeding, you staying in college and now graduating will impact more people than if you run a large corporation because of the power of organic growth.”

Shirley then presented quotes by two Nobel Peace Prize laureates. She cited Albert Schweitzer, who said, “The three most important ways to lead people are by example, by example and by example” and Albert Einstein, who said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”

“As graduates, go forth and lead,” she concluded. “Your family and Oklahoma need you to continue setting the example of going to college and graduating.”



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