Commencement speaker: You now possess the tools to be successful

Gary BergGraduates at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire received some words of encouragement to go along with their degrees from a fellow Blugold during commencement ceremonies May 23: "Anyone has a chance at being successful if you graduate from UW-Eau Claire." 

Gary Berg, a 1979 UW-Eau Claire English graduate, delivered his alma mater's commencement address during the morning and afternoon ceremonies in Zorn Arena.

Berg is the chief executive officer of G.L. Berg Entertainment, a company he established that specializes in contracting entertainment for college, corporate, fair, festival and theater events throughout the United States. G.L. Berg Entertainment has grown to be the largest entertainment provider in the Midwest, annually contracting entertainment and speakers for more than 3,000 shows throughout the United States and the world. The company represents approximately 100 professional comedians, musicians and variety performers.

During the address to graduates, Berg explained how an English graduate who never took a class in business, marketing, computers, accounting or management became an entrepreneur and successful business owner. 

"I did not know what an entrepreneur was when I graduated, but I am now the owner of a successful company," Berg said. "How does that happen? It happens because no matter what degree you are receiving today, if you have learned to read and listen critically, write and speak thoughtfully, and to respect and learn from other people's opinions and ideas even if they are different than yours, you now possess the main tools needed to be successful in whatever career path you choose going forward."

In his closing remarks, Berg cited a quote from an unknown author, "Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do." 

"So as you move forward through life be kind, laugh often, work hard and don't be afraid to drive fast once in a while and take some chances," Berg said. "It is in doing the things that aren't always safe and comfortable and that challenge us that makes us all better." 

Berg was one of eight alumni to receive awards from the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association at a luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with commencement. Berg received the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit upon the recipient and the university. See a news release with details about the alumni awards recipients.