Eastern Michigan University students graduating in the winter commencement can expect to see a familiar face give their keynote address. Judge Greg E. Mathis will be the keynote speaker for the ceremony, which is scheduled at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20 in the Convocation Center.
Judge Mathis, an alumnus of EMU, received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in 1983.
Mathis plans to deliver a message of inspiration and hope to graduates.
He defines himself as an inspirational figure that was able to overcome obstacles, and he is hopeful this will allow students to relate to him.
Mathis said, “After achieving the height of their lives, they must prepare themselves for tremendous obstacles. I intend to inspire them.”
He plans to teach graduates key attributes that will make them successful in their endeavors.
“I plan to teach them patience, determinacy, and how to maintain their motivation,” he said.
According to Mathis, education is necessary in order to be successful in life.
“Education is the primary tool for preparing yourself for the workplace,” he said. “It ultimately determines the quality of life for you and your family.”
Judge Mathis credits his late mother for giving him inspiration and motivation to finish school.
“She gave me a strong sense of spirituality and a strong educational foundation,” Mathis said. “After I got kicked out of public schools, she paid for me to go to a church school. Raising four boys in the toughest housing projects certainly deserves accolades.”
Mathis believes EMU gave him a second chance in life to be successful. “Eastern is one of the few colleges or universities that offered an affirmative action program, which included giving a trial opportunity through a summer program,” he said. “If you succeeded, you could attend the school.”
Mathis is a firm supporter of affirmative action. “It gives marginal high school students, students who grew up in poverty, or students disadvantaged by society in other ways a second chance,” he said.
Mathis feels EMU has faculty members who put students first, and he recalled a particular individual who helped him on the road to success.
“Clarence Light. He was the Director of Minority Admissions and Affairs. He was most helpful to my admission,” Mathis said. “When I graduated, he later began operating a social service agency. We worked together closely. It was one of those situations where I was able to reach back and give. I really cherished him.”