Apple icon urges HPU grads to be problem-solvers

May. 04, 2013 @ 05:08 PM

click here to view a photo slideshow of HPU's graduation

One of the world’s leading technology innovators on Saturday encouraged the members of High Point University’s 2013 graduating class to find bold solutions to long-standing challenges.
Steve Wozniak, best known as one of the founders of Apple, spoke to approximately 9,000 people at HPU’s 89th graduation ceremony. A total of 936 degrees were conferred to the largest graduating class in school history.
Wozniak — a Silicon Valley icon whose inventions include the Apple I and Apple II computers, which helped launch the personal computer industry more than 30 years ago — said many of the ideas that have led to the best advancements in technology didn’t come about through conventional book study.
“The purpose of a good education isn’t necessarily the content you’ve learned. You have actually learned how to learn here,” he said. “That’s what’s going to really apply to your life.”
Wozniak shared his personal education journey, recalling how he went back to college while he and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs were making the company a household name. Wozniak, who earned a degree from the University of California, Berkley in 1986, said he had an epiphany after he was injured in a plane crash in 1981.
“Five weeks later, I came out of amnesia and I phoned Steve Jobs and I said, ‘You know what? The Macintosh team has all these great, creative people. They’ll be fine without me. This is my last chance to go back to college,’” he said. “People ask, ‘What was the proudest day of your life?’ And I always say, ‘It was my graduation day.’”
Despite their accomplishments, Wozniak said his generation hasn’t been able to solve a lot of the world’s major problems, and he called on the graduates to take on those challenges.
“Try to think of new ways to solve the old problems,” he said. “Very often we look at something we have and say ‘I could make it better.’ That’s innovation. But you know what? Sometimes we say, ‘I could do something totally different that makes things a lot easier for people.’ And that’s true invention.”
Saturday’s ceremony included presentation of an honorary degree to Ernest Greene, who was recognized for his volunteer efforts on behalf of Collin Smith, a graduate from Asheboro who was paralyzed following a car crash in high school.
Smith, a quadriplegic, was assisted during his four years at HPU by Greene, who volunteered his time to care for, drive and take notes for Smith in his courses.
HPU President Nido Qubein presented Greene with an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Faculty awards were also given during the ceremony. Dr. Richard Parker, chair of marketing and sport management and associate professor of business, received the Ruth Ridenhour Scholarly and Professional Achievement Award. Andrea Wheless, professor of art, received the Meredith Clark Slane Distinguished Teaching-Service Award.