Bonnie Rollins

Bachelor of Science, Accounting
Bachelor of Science, Business Administration

Good Morning. I would like to thank the Board of Regents, the Chancellor, President Daniel, Provost Wildenthal, Dean Pirkul, faculty, parents and fellow students for this opportunity to speak to you today. It is a heartfelt honor that words truly cannot express.

My name is Bonnie Rollins, mother of three wonderful children and eight glorious grandchildren, and today I am a college graduate. Not just a college graduate, but the first in our family tree. As I reflect back, I think about how old and nervous I felt taking that first class. Of course, it did not help that one of my classmates had gone to school with my youngest child the year before. For “nonconventional” students, there are challenges and responsibilities in life that do not exist for the younger student. Some of those challenges I could not have endured had it not been for some very caring professors. A great professor can make a huge difference in the educational journey, and I have been very blessed. On behalf of all the graduates, I would like to say a very special “thank you” to those professors who have driven, encouraged and enlightened us.

Profile Photo of Bonnie Rollins

When I first received an invitation to speak, I thought to myself, “I just want to grab my diploma and run.” Well, walk really fast. Because anyone who knows me knows that if I am running, something is on fire. But as I thought about speaking, a conversation that I had with my grandson Hunter came to mind. I realized I did have something to say. I would like to share with you what I told him.

I told him to never stop learning. Learn everything you can in school, but don’t stop there. Learn from life. Be curious about life and everything in it. When you are on a job, learn everything you can about that job. Learn about every job duty that affects your position. No matter how large or small the job, it is knowledge. Knowledge is powerful. If you are active in a club or organization, listen to the people that are around you. They have been places and done things that you may or may not have had the opportunity to do. Be a sponge and absorb everything you can. As a member of the Dean’s Council, I found myself continually learning new things from the other students. JSOM has 35 different student organizations in which most all of our graduates benefited from, whether as a member or a participant. These organizations provide a learning opportunity as well as a teaching opportunity. We are better because of them.

“There is information and knowledge everywhere, if we take the time to look. While you are absorbing all this knowledge, remember that today we have resources available to us that our forefathers could not even imagine. Do your research to know the truth from fiction.”

We have all heard the tales from our parents or grandparents, which may or may not include walking to school barefoot, uphill, both ways, in the snow. Do not write those stories off. There is knowledge in those stories. Listen closely. You may never have to walk to school or be without shoes, but some day an event will happen that will make you remember those stories. You will see the wisdom that is buried within and smile. My grandfather was married to one woman whom he was smart enough to love and fear. She was a tough lady, as were most women of that era. He was a WWII vet and the father of 11 kids. I did not agree with everything my grandfather believed, but he was a wise man. He taught me the value of family.

There is information and knowledge everywhere, if we take the time to look. While you are absorbing all this knowledge, remember that today we have resources available to us that our forefathers could not even imagine. Do your research to know the truth from fiction. Know that there are many points of view and that doesn’t make one right and one wrong … just different. I learned this from my children.

My grandson asked why we should never stop learning. As with all kids, he is full of questions. Thankfully, he has moved past the “why” questions and into the more difficult ones. I told him knowledge was value. The more we learned, the more valuable we were. I am not talking about a monetary value, but that can definitely be the case. I told him that we would feel more valuable and that would affect everything around us. The way we see ourselves is expressed in everything we do and all the lives we touch.

We are all wiser for the journey we have had at the Jindal School of Management. As much as I hope I have touched and inspired all of my grandchildren, I encourage all of you to inspire others. Never become stagnant; continue to grow always.

Hunter may not understand all this now but maybe one day in the future, he will remember this conversation, smile and decide his grandmother was a wise woman.

My name is Bonnie Butler Rollins, granddaughter of migrant workers, daughter of parents who were only allowed a seventh-grade education and proof that hard work and determination will take you wherever you want to go. Thank you.


Bonnie Rollins graduated with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business administration. She was a member of the Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society. She works full time for a company that includes an accounting firm, financial and investing company, as well as a corporation handling paperwork for the oil and gas industry.