University of South Carolina

Commencement: Dr. Lou shares his rules for a happy life

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-1421

Longtime football coach Lou Holtz shared his three simple rules for a happy and successful life with graduates at the University of South Carolina’s winter commencement ceremony Monday.

  • Do the right thing and people will always trust you.
  • Do everything to the best of your ability and people will want to associate with you.
  • Never miss an opportunity to let people know you genuinely care.

“Those are the only three rules you need. If you follow those three rules, you’ll make good choices. If you make good choices you’ll lead a happy life,” Holtz said. “When your life comes to an end, you’ll have absolutely no regrets. And to me, I think that’s a successful life.”

Holtz, who was USC’s head football coach from 1999 to 2004 and is now an ESPN commentator, delivered a commencement address that was part inspirational message combined with a large dose of humor. He also received an honorary doctorate of education at the ceremony – with USC President Harris Pastides congratulating him as “Dr. Lou.”

“Want to be happy for an hour? Eat a steak. Want to be happy for a day? Play golf. Want to be happy for a week? Go on a cruise…Want to be happy for a year? Win the lottery. Want to be happy for a lifetime? Make sure people know how much you care,” Holtz told the crowd, who gave him a standing ovation following his remarks.

Cathy Novinger, a retired executive of SCANA Corp., community leader and philanthropist, received an honorary doctorate of public service. Wenliang Wang, chairman of Rilin Enterprises Ltd., a global construction and logistics firm based in Dandong, China, and a major benefactor of higher education programs that focus on U.S.-China relations, received an honorary doctorate of business administration.

USC awarded more than 2,700 degrees to baccalaureate, master’s and professional-degree recipients from all eight campuses at the commencement ceremony.

For students walking across the stage Monday, commencement offered a chance to remember, celebrate and look forward.

Kendall JenkinsKendall Jenkins of Conway, S.C., will be heading to Montgomery, Ala., in February. The electrical engineering graduate has accepted a job as an engineer with International Paper.

“It feels excellent to be graduating. It’s a milestone a lot of people don’t get to see. And as one door closes, another opens,” he said.

Chelsea Strivelli of Ocean Township, N.J., was receiving her degree in biology. She hopes to attend dental school next year.

“I spent a lot of time in the library – I really did – and I met a lot of good friends, too.”

One of those was Heather Baron, of Oakland, N.J., was receiving her degree in exercise science. She is applying to occupational therapy school and plans to work with geriatric patients.

She said the commencement ceremony felt “surreal. It feels like I’m saying goodbye to the best four years of my life.”

For the first time, international students who received their degrees from Carolina were able to wear sashes to commencement, representing the flags of their home countries. USC is home to 1,400 international students from more than 100 countries.

“We all met at orientation and everyone was so scared and apprehensive. It’s wonderful to get together again two or four years later to see everyone’s accomplishments,” said Alice Valdetaro, a student from Brazil who earned her master’s in mass communications Monday. “This university has provided us with a community. USC has made this our home away from home.”

Jamie Hicks

Graduate Jamie Hicks of Florence, S.C., will also be on the road soon. The broadcast journalism graduate accepted a job last week as a reporter with WCTI in New Bern, N.C. She starts Dec. 31.

“I’ll walk across the stage, I have a week to pack and then move on to the big girl world,” she said.

Hicks was wearing a mortar board thanking her mom and dad.

“My parents are my rocks. If I had a dream they used every tool they had to help me accomplish it. I’m walking today for myself, but also for them.”

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 12/17/12 @ 10:00 AM | Updated: 12/17/12 @ 7:42 PM | Permalink

USC commencement, by the numbers

  • USC Columbia: two associate degrees; 1,216 baccalaureate degrees; eight law; two medicine; 33 graduate certificates; 495 master's degrees; five specialist degrees; 177 doctoral degrees.
  • USC Aiken: 211 baccalaureate degrees; 10 master's degrees
  • USC Beaufort: four associate degrees; 75 baccalaureate degrees
  • USC Lancaster: 36 associate degrees
  • USC Salkehatchie: 12 associate degrees
  • USC Sumter: 31 associate degrees
  • USC Union: 15 associate degrees
  • USC Upstate: 446 baccalaureate degrees; three master's degrees
  • Total all campuses: 2,783



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