Adrienne B. Haynes
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Adrienne B. Haynes

Read the full transcript: Adrienne B. Haynes’ Graduation Message to the Classes of 2020 and 2021

This weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, Adrienne shared a special graduation message to the Buena Vista University Classes of 2020 and 2021. The remarks were a part of a historic commencement weekend. In the remarks, she urged the emerging leaders to not be afraid, to strive to live a full live, and to build and contribute to their communities. You can watch the full video of the speech, as well as read a transcript below. To stay connected with Adrienne B. Haynes, visit her website here.

Remarks of Adrienne B. Haynes

Commencement Keynote Address

Classes of 2020 and 2021

May 8–9th, 2021

My name is Adrienne B. Haynes and I am a proud graduate of the Buena Vista University class of 2010. I am in my second term of participating on the our National Alumni Association Board of Directors and from all of us to you, Congratulations! Welcome to the alumni side of the arch.

Thank you to President Lenzmeier for the invitation and opportunity to address the classes of 2020 and 2021. It really is an honor for me to be able to participate in such an important moment in your lives. Whether you are celebrating in person or virtually, graduation is a chance to do what Leo Tolstoy reminds, to stop a moment, cease your work, and look around you.

Only a few short years ago I sat in your seats, excited to be done with finals, surrounded by family and friends, and wondering how the time had passed so quickly. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and I hope you allow yourself to truly celebrate your accomplishment. You’ve studied, you’ve been consistent- hopefully you’ve had a little fun- and you’ve proven to yourselves and to the world that you have the sticktoitiveness to do so in the midst of a pandemic. Those are the skills that will put you ahead as you advance.

Looking forward, you are now fully in charge of your continued education, your opportunities, and ultimately, your impact. You can freely exercise your right of self-determination, the right to determine your own destiny. Some of you may continue your educational career. Some will go into the workplace and begin building your legacy and your families. Each of your journeys will be unique, as they have been.

Regardless of where life takes you next, measuring progress, goals and success on this side of graduation has a slightly elevated scale. The standard is measured by how well you pursue your calling and the impact that you have on those around you. One of my favorite definitions of success is by author John C. Maxwell. He defines success as: Knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.

As you begin to define how you will allocate your time, talent, and treasure in the next chapters, I encourage you to give yourself time and space to explore and define what success means for you.

Don’t be afraid to be innovative and to set your sights high, even if it stretches you. It may require additional training, new experiences, emotional intelligence, trying again after temporary failure, and genuine faith. That’s good! All those things will signal that you’re still learning and growing, no matter where your path leads.

You may even find that your purpose requires you to make a promise beyond ableness. Author Carol Sanford tells us that a promise beyond ableness is not an overpromise but a commitment to work on something beyond our capacity in order to make systemic change. It is by nature, something that you don’t already know how to do. It will mean saying yes to curiosity, lifelong learning, and the beautiful realization that Aristotle came to when he wrote, The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. If you lean into your promise beyond ableness, you just may find your deepest aspirations, your voice, and a better understanding of how to contribute to the global world around you.

When I first graduated from Buena Vista, I knew entrepreneurial law was the direction I was heading in, but I wasn’t sure what that fully meant or looked like. I was told several times that entrepreneurial law was “not a thing”. In law school, as I was figuring it out, I was running a residential camp over the summer and borrowing ladders from my law school professors to run a painting company during the semester. Sometimes figuring out what and where your passion lies means taking the road less traveled. That’s ok!

It took me a few years of learning, listening and trusting to define my own mission. Each experience and entrepreneur brought me closer to understand how I was meant to contribute to the whole. Today it’s more clear — professionally, my mission is to aid in the creation of sustainable business and transferable wealth for entrepreneurs and communities. After just about eight years in business, we’ve been able to create jobs, develop and contribute hundreds of hours of continuing education to business owners and professionals, and represent makers, doers, entrepreneurs, and innovators across the country as they grow their companies, families, and economies.

I’ve been fortunate to have had some professional wins and I can tell you with certainty that it all comes with some, well, lessons, too. That is to be expected, and as graduates, you likely haven’t made it this far without learning that lesson too. As a student, I spent a few semesters in Professor McDaniel’s Statistics class, and it really helped reinforce the age-old notion that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Luckily, those lessons will transfer into the real world.

Having a clear purpose and mission makes navigating the ups and downs of life a bit easier. I’ve found that the greatest lessons come from the things you don’t just breeze through, but the times that challenge you and give you an opportunity to build character and resilience. Then, in the face of any temporary set back, you can go back to your why.

As educated, emerging leaders during this time in history, you have a unique opportunity to influence the future. The pandemic has reset the entire world, and how we rebuild will be based in part, on your leadership and willingness to explore what a life of growth to your maximum potential really looks life. As Nelson Mandela said, there is no passion to be found in playing small and settling for a life that’s less than one you’re capable of living.,

The journey towards personal success will require others. You’ll want the support, resources, and collective wisdom of community. Luckily, you’re not alone.

Look around you. Your family and friends and the professors and staff here have helped you to reach this milestone of success. Let’s take a moment of gratitude to give them a round of applause.

You will make a lot of new friends in the coming years. Remember that the colleagues and classmates around you make up your network too. Stay in touch with each other! Your network is your net worth and that starts here. The alumni network that you’ve graduated into is full of professionals leading in every industry and truly, across the world.

I’m fortunate to know and network with alumni today who are authors, artists, executives, administrators, family leaders, entrepreneurs, and professional service providers. From local leadership to international acclaim, you’ll find BV alumni who are excelling and giving back to their communities.

What you’ve learned here will prepare and propel you for years to come. Use your degree and the privileges that come with it to engage beyond the workplace and positively influence your neighborhoods and community groups. Education for service is not just a motto, it is our continued pledge.

Welcome again to the alumni side of the arch. We are proud of you, we congratulate you, and we want to see you at Homecoming and the regional events. Go forward on your journey to success; we’ll be here to cheer you on.

Thank you.



My name is Adrienne B. Haynes and I focus my time, talents, and treasures on the intersection of law, entrepreneurship, and community designed innovation.

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Adrienne B. Haynes

Adrienne B. Haynes


My name is Adrienne B. Haynes and I focus my time, talents, and treasures on the intersection of law, entrepreneurship, and community designed innovation.