In his commencement address to the Philadelphia University class of 2013 this past May, Carson Kressley had a lot of advice and a number of anecdotes for our graduates. I believe the most important piece of advice was this: “Be true to yourself, invent yourself, and design your dream life.”
After graduating from college, Carson feared that he could not be the “real Carson” professionally because he would never be able to work as an openly gay man. Luckily, Carson was able to conquer his fears and build the career he always wanted by living and working with passion and honesty. He landed his career-making role in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy because he embraced his personality and displayed it on television for the world to see. What he had once feared most became a great strength and professional brand.
PhilaU’s mission is to prepare students for careers in the 21st century global economy. We urge our students to be true to themselves personally and professionally, building their future and their professional brand around their unique talents and aspirational goals. PhilaU students invent themselves here. They overcome their fears and hesitations to produce results. This mature self-realization and self-fulfillment is what makes our students stand out in the work force: PhilaU challenges our students to stretch their limits and learn about themselves in the process, and it makes them great professionals and leaders in their industries.
As Carson said in his commencement address, doing only what is expected of you is a huge and common mistake. PhilaU provides an environment for students to take risks and perform above and beyond what is expected of them. This is why our students produce professional-level work while still in college. They are not afraid to fail in the PhilaU environment, because we emphasize that failing is part of learning. Students who never make a misstep do not work outside of their comfort zone. We teach our students to embrace these failures and remember them as they move forward.
PhilaU treasures its friendship with Carson because his professional and personal values are lofty and noble, and we admire and enjoy his boundless enthusiasm for life and work. His passion makes us better. We look forward to seeing him tomorrow for Discover Fashion Day, as well as many more times to come as he helps PhilaU’s students imagine and build their future.
Carson’s Twitter account is here: @CarsonKressley
Carson’s PhilaU Commencement 2013 address:
An “It Gets Better” video made by PhilaU’s Gay Straight Alliance:
Pictures of Carson from PhilaU’s 2013 Commencement: