Auburn alumnus shares inspiring message with summer graduates

Published: August 03, 2019
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Almost 50 years after Dick Ingwersen earned his degree from Auburn, he returned to The Plains to share what he called “hard-won insight” with the university’s summer 2019 graduating class: Don’t be afraid to fail.

“Life gives you many chances to rebound,” he said. “You may never reach your potential if you don’t try. Mistakes are part of experience, and experience will lead to wisdom. Auburn has produced many great citizens, entrepreneurs and leaders, and you can be one of them.”

Ingwersen himself is one of them, having graduated from Auburn in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in business and later went on to earn a juris doctor degree from Emory University. His education laid the foundation for a successful career. He founded two companies: Atlanta-based certified public accounting firm Gifford, Hillegass and Ingwersen and Ingwersen & Taylor law firm.

Over the course of his career and his life, Ingwersen said he has found it essential to determine the priorities he would never abandon: his family, his profession and giving back.

“I need to do all that I can to maintain my physical, mental and spiritual health,” he said. “Without this, I could not take care of my top three priorities in life.”

While he said his profession consumed a large quantity of his time, he made sure he balanced it well with his family and with serving others, including his church, local community and the university that he said paved the way for him to get started with his own career.

One way that he has helped others in the Auburn Family is by hiring graduates.

“My experience is that Auburn people clearly followed the Auburn Creed, particularly the first tenet, ‘I believe in work, hard work.’ Many nights and weekends nearing tax deadlines, I would look around, and it was always the Auburn graduates who were there,” he said.

He encouraged the graduates to have a passion for their chosen career because he said if they’re doing what they love, it will rarely feel like work.

“I believe that it doesn’t matter what you do, but you should do it to the best of your ability,” he said.

Ingwersen reminded the graduates that the most important thing they will leave Auburn with is academic training from a well-respected university.

“You are a valuable asset,” he said. “You have an education from a nationally ranked land-grant institution. Now you need to be sure you have determination, perseverance and empathy for your fellow humans.”

The university conferred 1,343 degrees during two ceremonies Saturday, Aug. 3, including 106 doctoral degrees, 310 master’s degrees, 20 specialist degrees, two pharmacy degrees, one veterinary medicine degree and 904 bachelor’s degrees. The bachelor’s degree by college and school are: College of Liberal Arts, 191; Harbert College of Business, 179; Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, 137; School of Nursing, 95; College of Human Sciences, 87; College of Architecture, Design and Construction, 69; College of Sciences and Mathematics, 59; College of Education, 43; College of Agriculture, 30; School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 14.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.