University of South Carolina

Jon Huntsman Jr.
Jon Huntsman Jr.

A USC day of celebration: Spring commencement

Huntsman, who was named ambassador to China by President Barack Obama, spoke of the perspective he acquired on the people of the United States while he was in China.

"I know there are many in China who think their time has come, that America's best days are over. And there are probably some in this country who have lost confidence and think that China is the next big thing. But these people aren't seeing things from my earlier vantage point of 10,000 miles away. The way I saw it from overseas, America's passion remains as strong today as ever," he said.

In pushing students to find their own paths, he talked of his early years, when his initial passion was to be a rock ‘n’ roll musician. He left high school early -- with his Rod Stewart-shaggy hair and super skinny jeans -- to tour with the band Wizard.

”I thought it was my ticket to fame,” he said. "One of my favorite bands is Ben Folds Five," he said. "I love this lyric: 'I don't get many things right the first time…. In fact, I am told that a lot. Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls brought me here. And I know that I am the luckiest.' "

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