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Lady Antebellum members Charles Kelley, left, and Dave Haywood perform during the UGA undergraduate Commecement ceremony.
Lady Antebellum members Charles Kelley, left, and Dave Haywood perform at the UGA Undergraduate Commecement ceremony.

The Terry College welcomed more than 2,000 new alumni May 4, when the Class of 2018 turned their tassels and graduated with degrees in business. 

At Sanford Stadium, where degrees were conferred to UGA undergraduates, Terry alums Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood from country music group Lady Antebellum serenaded graduates with a singalong of “Georgia on My Mind.” 

Also urging them on was Chris Brearton, chief operating officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who delivered the keynote address at Terry Convocation in a packed-to-the-rafters Stegeman Coliseum. 

“You guys are the generation of technology. Use it to build a network. You never know who can have a profound effect on your life. I had my first client, MGM, just three months after I sat in the chairs you’re sitting in. I now run that studio. That’s amazing, and it’s because I had this network and I used it,” said Brearton, a 1992 accounting graduate. “Use that technology to prepare. You have so much information at your fingertips, you should never be unprepared for anything—whether it’s a job interview or a date. 

“And finally, don’t forget to put that technology down from time to time,” he cautioned. “Don’t text when you can call. Don’t call when you can have a meeting. And don’t let shaking someone’s hand and looking them in their eyes become a lost art. It’s really important. It’s what gets things done.” 

Speaking to about 1,500 Terry graduates and thousands more in the stands of Stegeman Coliseum, Brearton shared his four principles for success: 1. Live with integrity. 2. Your work ethic defines your greatness. 3. Have passion in life. 4. Be self-aware and swim your own race.

“Being self-aware is the single hardest thing to do,” he said. "I tell my young lawyers and colleagues that everybody has a superpower and it’s important you know what yours is – and what it’s not. Understanding what you’re not good at is the most important lesson you can learn. 

A collegiate swimmer at Georgia, Brearton also said, “To live in the absolute world, not in the relative world. If you try to measure yourself against others, you won’t be happy. Define your own success and work hard to get to that goal. That’s swimming your own race.”

Haywood and Kelley, both 2004 BBA graduates, took the stage in Sanford Stadium to address more than 4,500 UGA undergraduates. They spoke about putting their business careers on hold to chase their dreams of country music stardom.

“It was a bit of a risk for us to go to Nashville,” Haywood said, “but at the same time, it wasn’t really that big of a risk at all” because they had UGA degrees.

Kelley urged students to be open to opportunities they haven’t even dreamed of, saying: “There is more than one clear path and direction.”

They ended their remarks with an acoustic performance of “Georgia on My Mind” made famous by Georgia native Ray Charles.