The speaker for an annual lecture series was given a standing ovation for inspiring students to keep going and never give up.
The School of Management hosted its 12th-annual leadership speaker series on Thursday featuring actor and Iraq veteran J.R. Martinez. The banquet began with introductory remarks from the dean of School of Management, Chris Earley, and distribution of various awards from the school.
Thomas Stewart, a junior in the College of Technology, said he was inspired by the speaker’s words because it felt like they came from the heart.
“We’ve all heard many speeches about not giving up,” Stewart said, “but J.R.’s message was different. There was something genuine about his speech. I felt like I can definitely relate to his stories about going through the hard stuff but also reaching above to fulfill your dreams.”
Faculty members, trustees and staff also attended the event, including former Purdue president France Córdova.
Many faces in the audience seemed more attentive as Martinez’s story got personal and intimate as he spoke about his tragedy in the Middle East, where he suffered from gas inhalation and severe burns. Recalling the numerous days in the hospital recovering, J.R. remembers how the walk from his hospital bed to the bathtub was the most painful experience a severe burn victim can go through.
Samantha Hinds, a senior in the College of Management, said it was an honor just to be able to sit in front of a true American hero and listen to his stories of perseverance.
“He is truly inspiring,” Hinds said. “I don’t think I could ever be a motivational speaker after such a tragic accident, but he brings so much joy and humor into his life that it never bothers him anymore. That’s something we all need to understand these days. It’s not about how you look on the outside, but about what you do inside to change the people around you.”
This year’s recipient of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship Award, Shawn A. Taylor, also brought smiles to the audience recalling his moments with his mother.
“Love is not spelled L-O-V-E,” Taylor said, “but T-I-M-E.”