Huntsville, Ala. -- Army Materiel Command's senior leader Gen. Dennis L. Via reminded Oakwood University graduates of exactly what it takes to succeed during their 2016 Spring Commencement Ceremony at the Von Braun Civic Center Saturday, May 7.
Via served as the keynote speaker for the 120-year-old institution, which was founded by the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1896 and a historically black university.
He reminded the now-alumni that the world is different outside of the campus.
"You'll walk away from the comfortable and secure world of academia on Oakwood's beautiful and historic campus, and walk into an unpredictable global world -- the real world -- where opportunity will become your watchword and where success must become your mantra," he told the 400 graduates.
Via commands a $48 billion global logistics organization. He is one of nearly a dozen four-star generals. To prepare the graduates, he shared traits of successful leaders he has seen in his career spanning three decades.
"Believe in yourself and be confident of your abilities. You're better prepared than you think you are to begin a successful life and a successful career," said Via.
Face hardship head on and use it as a growth opportunity, he told the graduates reflecting on the adversity he faced at the age of 19 with the sudden passing of his father.
"When adversity comes, try not to just survive it, but overcome it; learn from it," Via said. "In the end, how you face adversity will depend upon your attitude. It's been said that ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do, but attitude and attitude alone determines how well you do it."
He also encouraged the graduates to establish an excellent reputation, be known for integrity, seek out opportunities, strive to be a good person and remember your foundation.
"No matter how high your climb on your personal ladder of success, remember to remain grounded," Via said. "If those who came before you here at Oakwood University did not, you would not have had this opportunity. You are standing on their shoulders. Let future Oakwood University graduates stand on yours."
The Oakwood University 2016 Spring Commencement included 414 graduates, ranging in age from 19 to 63 years. The university presented seven Masters degrees, 55 Adult & Continuing Education (LEAP) degrees, and 28 Dietic Interns. Nine graduates were bestowed Summa Cum Laude honors; 20 were Magna Cum Laude, and 46 were Cum Laude.