Back to:
Current year's news releases

All news releases
News and information home

Commencement Speaker Emphasizes Passion and Trust in Learned Skills

RELEASED: Dec. 22, 2008

Terence McMahon
Terence McMahon

EAU CLAIRE — Terence McMahon, principal commercial real estate adviser for the Milwaukee-based Boerke Company Inc. and a 1978 business administration and marketing graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Saturday delivered the commencement address at UW-Eau Claire during the morning and afternoon ceremonies.

McMahon also received the Lifetime Excellence Award, which is presented to alumni who have demonstrated a long and successful commitment to their careers and communities.

McMahan told the approximately 700 graduates that when he sat where they were sitting, he had only a hazy vision of what his future might hold, and times were not unlike today, with uncertainties in the job market and an unstable economy. But as he went into the business world, McMahon said he discovered he was well prepared for the opportunities that came his way.

"I had an education, confidence in my abilities and the knack to think and act on my feet," said McMahon. "These personality attributes were all developed while I attended UW-Eau Claire. The experiences gained here in the school and in my social and personal life were life altering in ways I could not imagine."

McMahon said he learned how to multi-task at UW-Eau Claire, where he not only studied but also played sports, sold ads for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram and The Spectator, organized whitewater canoe trips and much more.

"I took all those building blocks of what I learned and what I liked and built my life around them," McMahon said.

After working in sales in various industries, McMahon said he was introduced to the commercial real estate brokerage business, a field in which he has excelled. He became a leader in his company, which over time has merged with others to become one of the larger commercial brokerage companies in the state. He is now a partner in the Boerke Company Inc.

But McMahon said he also loves to do things for his community and to build things, and in the 1980s, he and five friends began discussing the idea of building the first tall ship to be built in Wisconsin in 100 years.

"When we first started on the quest ... we had nothing but passion," McMahon said. "We started in 1989, began actual construction with the keel laying in 1995 and launched the boat in August of 2000."

McMahon said bringing the project (the Lake Schooner Denis Sullivan) to completion took thousands of hours of work, passion, sheer determination and an unwillingness to give up, even in the bleakest of times.

"My experience here with the faculty at UW-Eau Claire taught me that hard work and determination were a critical part of success — not just the academics, but the passionate side, the ability to dream big and work toward delivering those dreams is what this institution gave me," McMahon said.

And the project took on an importance McMahon said he never could have foreseen.

"What started as an ambitious $4-million-dollar boat-building project has now blossomed into an $85-million-dollar technology and freshwater awareness center called Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin," McMahon said. "This journey has created incredible opportunities for our community, employs over 80 people, and we are still in the infant stages of what this institution will become in terms of a global presence. We are now partnering with oceanographic institutions in Florida and with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. The mission has become bigger than any of our dreams and has charted a course for me as a volunteer for many years to come."

McMahon went on to sum up the lessons to be learned from his experience and that of all the other graduates of UW-Eau Claire.

"You are now one of us; your charge here today is to follow your dreams and ambitions with passion, determination and enthusiasm," McMahon said. "This is your world to shape. UW-Eau Claire has given you the proper tools to make an impact with your life that will better the environment and those around you. Develop your uniqueness; don't follow the path of others but blaze your own trail."

-30-

NW/JB

Back to:
Current year's news releases

All news releases
News and information home

 

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.