Jerry White, Nobel Laureate for Peace, was the keynote speaker for the Mendoza College of Business Graduate Commencement 2010.
"Jerry is an individual who has demonstrated through his life and his work the power one person can have to change the world," said Carolyn Y. Woo, Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business. "His vision, passion and courage set the example that we wish for our graduates, and we are honored to have him speak at our commencement."
The theme of White's speech to graduates was patience, and waiting long enough to see good things happen in their lives. In particular, he talked about the idea of a pilgrimage, which, contrary to the commonly held view, is really about discomfort and pain. He warned them of the perils of taking on the identity of victimhood, urging them instead to move through hardships as a super-survivor. "It’s a mindset to know that your life does not have to be defined by your worst moment."
White co-founded Survivor Corps, the first international organization created by and for survivors to help victims of war rebuild their lives. He himself was injured by a landmine during a camping trip in Israel in the mid-80s, and has gone on to become a recognized leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. A co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace, White escorted Diana, Princess of Wales, on her last humanitarian mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then spearheaded efforts to promote a mine-free Middle East with King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan.
His philosophy is that those who have been most scarred by the world’s violence can become the best agents for change, helping to put an end to cycles of victimization and mass destruction. Through Survivor Corps, White is seeking to build a global movement to address the root causes of armed conflict in 39 countries. In his book, "Getting Up When Life Knocks You Down: Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis," White shares stories from fellow survivors, describing the process of not only surviving tragedy, but transforming unexpected challenges into growth and opportunity.
He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Judaic Studies from Brown University, and also has an MBA from the University of Michigan and an honorary doctorate from Mount Sinai School of Medicine.