Kevin Carroll named commencement speaker

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Matt Rogers, Co-Editor-in-chief

Utica College has announced motivational speaker Kevin Carroll will speak at the school’s undergraduate commencement May 8 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Carroll, who has worked as an athletic trainer for the Philadelphia 76ers and a creative consultant for Nike, became a public speaker almost by accident. He was working as an athletic trainer at a basketball camp many years ago when the scheduled speaker couldn’t make it. Carroll stepped up, and since then, has been speaking, motivating and inspiring.

Carroll estimates he speaks publicly around 30 to 40 times a year, but also does a great deal of consulting groups and businesses.

Director of Student Activities Joe Gutowski is a member of the committee that selects the keynote speaker, and he said a lot of work goes into search. He said it is nearly a one-year process to find and select the right speaker.

“We sit down after Homecoming and do our research,” Gutowski said. “We’re already talking about potential speakers for next year if that’s any indication of how long a process it is.”

Campuses across the nation often look for politicians or successful alumni to deliver these keynote addresses. So, how did UC even hear about Kevin Carroll, let alone decide to have him as the speaker?

It all had to do with a little luck.

Gutowski attended a conference in St. Louis three years ago. He heard Carroll tell his story at that conference and walked away very impressed. Three year later, and now UC students will have that same opportunity.

“Kevin has a very inspirational message,” Gutowski said. “He talked about how the simple things can change the world.”

Carroll speaks frequently at conferences and business seminars, but does not often partake in commencement addresses.

“I’ve done a few,” he said, declining to make note of what his speech would be about. “It’s quite an honor when I get to do them. I plan on doing something unique.”

Carroll is the founder of Kevin Carroll Katalyst/LLC and is the author of three books, including Rules of the Red Rubber Ball, What’s Your Red Rubber Ball?!, and The Red Rubber Ball at Work.

The books focus on exercises and advice to help readers “achieve maximum human potential through the power of passion and creativity.”

Gutowski would not release the cost of booking Carroll. He did note, however, that outgoing president Todd Hutton, as well as other committee members, were all very involved in the decision-making process. Hutton said early last semester that he was attempting to bring in First Lady Michelle Obama, but those attempts appear to have been unsuccessful.

Carroll was chosen for his positive message, which Gutowski believes will be comforting for students preparing to venture out into the world.

“As celebrating a time as commencement is, it can also be a nervous time,” he said. “It’s a really positive message.”

While Carroll doesn’t actively seek commencement speaking opportunities, he says he cherishes his time on college campuses and enjoys speaking to younger audiences. Carroll said he is extremely excited to address UC’s class of 2016.

“I always love the opportunity when I get to go to colleges,” he said. “A big thing I really enjoy is seeing the next generation of makers, dreamers, doers and leaders and how they will improve the human condition. It’s important that they understand how much we are waiting for their arrival.”

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