USU commencement speaker urging graduates to take the ‘unconventional life path’


LOGAN – Global Poverty Project’s CEO and founder Hugh Evans congratulated Utah State University’s class of 2014 and encouraged the graduation candidates to follow their dreams. Evans was the speaker at the University’s commencement and also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree Saturday in the Spectrum.

“I want to encourage you to find within your heart what it is you believe in,” Evans said in his address. “If you already know it, that’s fantastic. I want to encourage you to be able to put every single part of your soul and your being into that, to take action.”

Evans started his address by explaining that his message was simple and was to take the unconventional path in life, to be willing to live with the risk of failure and to dream big and persevere toward those dreams.

In order to encourage the students to take the unconventional life path, Evans told his own story about how he founded the Global Poverty Project, whose goal is to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide by 2030. Evans said he came from a middle-class family in Melbourne, Australia. At the age of 14 he had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines after winning a contest from charity organization World Vision to go see firsthand the work that was being done. He arrived in the country to find an entire community that was built on top of a garbage dump. During a stay he met a boy his own age and spent some time with him at his home. When time came to go to sleep, the pots and pans used from cooking that day were pushed to the side of the room to make space to lie down and go to sleep.

“I’ll never forget lying there that night with the smell of garbage all around us as we’re lying on top of a garbage dump and cockroaches crawling all over us,” he said. “And I didn’t sleep at all, but I remember staying awake staring at the roof of the house just a few feet above my head, thinking to myself, ‘It really is pure chance that I was born where I was born.’”

By age 15, he said he had decided to commit his life to eradicating extreme poverty. His next two years were spent at a school in India. His experiences there strengthened his commitment. He said that it was out of this unorthodox, unconventional path that he resolved to found his movement, which has helped to raise billions of dollars for impoverished people across the world.

After reminding the graduation candidates to take the unconventional life path and to live with the risk of failure, he finished his address by urging the graduates to pursue what they believe in.

“Nothing great comes without perseverance,” he said. “This is something I know all of you know all too well. You stand here on the most important graduation day after years of grueling hard work, of success, of setbacks, perhaps even some spectacular failures and now on the edge of extraordinary victory.”

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