The chair of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Foundation and vice president of a financial services firm for the greater Fort Smith region will serve as the keynote speaker for the university’s spring commencement ceremonies held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 9.
John Taylor, senior vice president at Stern Agee & Leach, will speak to graduates during the ceremonies -- which are held in the Stubblefield Center on the UAFS campus -- on the journey that awaits them following graduation.
“I want them to understand that what’s happening to them on May 9 is not the end of something but the beginning,” Taylor said. “That diploma they’re getting, that is a ticket of admission for the rest of their life. What’s important now is what they do with it.”
In addition to the UAFS Foundation, Taylor serves as the board chair of the Degen Foundation as well as the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE). Both entities are responsible for the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, which is currently under construction at Chaffee Crossing.
Stricken with polio at the age of two, Taylor became passionate about philanthropic causes after seeing the impact that charities like the March of Dimes made on his life.
“I’m a functioning citizen because millions of mothers went door to door and collected dimes and paid for years of surgery for me,” Taylor said. “I’m the poster child for what happens when you help other people literally get on their own feet, and I take that message of philanthropy to my clients and help them find ways to contribute to something meaningful that exists beyond them.”
Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor, said the university is honored to have Taylor speak at its commencement exercises.
“We are honored to have Mr. Taylor address graduates about the importance of the diploma they’ve earned and the post-graduation journey that awaits them,” Beran said. “Mr. Taylor is a man of both integrity and success, and his accomplishments serve as an excellent model for students as they look towards the next step in their lives.”
Taylor is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner. He is a prominent public speaker, hosts a daily live radio segment with the local radio station KFPW, and frequently contributes to the business section of the Southwest Times Record. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Henderson State University.
The 10 a.m. ceremony will honor graduates from the College of Health Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The 2 p.m. ceremony will honor graduates from the College of Applied Science and Technology, College of Business, and the College of Languages and Communication.
For directions and other information, visit www.uafs.edu/academics/commencement-information.