Advertising Alumna Gives MSU Commencement Address

Alumna Susan Packard Speaks on Entrepreneurship, Receives Honorary Doctorate Degree

The author of several books, Susan Packard spoke during the baccalaureate ceremony for the Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Engineering, Lyman Briggs, Natural Science, Nursing, and Communication Arts and Sciences. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Michigan State University, during the ceremony held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019.

During the December 2019 ceremonies, ComArtSci awarded degrees to 213 undergraduate students. The occasion also welcomed the largest cohort of graduate students from the Masters in Strategic Communication Program.

Packard graduated from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences in 1977 and 1979, with a bachelor’s and master’s degree of advertising. She went on to assist in the creation of many TV networks that have become household names, including CNBC, the DIY Network, Food Network, and HGTV. Now, she is the author of two books, New Rules of the Game and Fully Human.

“You are an entrepreneur, author and role model—a College of Communication Arts and Sciences and Honors College Alumna,” said President Stanley, during the ceremony. “Leveraging your personal experiences, today you write, speak, and work with individuals who are curious about their promise and motivated to grow their potential.”

Stanley presented Packard with an honorary Doctor of Humanities from MSU for exemplifying Spartan values and inspiring success in others.

Addressing an audience of new graduates, Packard said it’s important to live holistically.

“We are all more than one thing,” Packard said. “What is important is to not only claim all these dimensions of ourselves, but to celebrate them.”

She referenced a story about a woman who was both a violinist and a mom, pointing out that each individual brings a different cultural background and personal history to the table. “Our most urgent and noble work is to know, accept, and love all of who we are,” said Packard. “All means your heritage, your roots, how you're made, your hopes and dreams. All means your inner life, as well as your outer life. All means your gifts—those bright and shiny parts of you that remind you ‘I’m really proud to be who I am’—but all also means the shadows, the parts that remind you you’re out of alignment, not being true to your full potential. You need to claim those parts too, so you’re accountable first to yourself and then to others, accountable to living a life that’s integrated.”

She said it was when she accepted the whole of who she was that she was able to do her most authentic work and publish two books.

“If you’re willing to be vulnerable enough to say, ‘I am all of these—light and shadow—the light in you will shine brighter.”

By Melissa Priebe

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