Commencement Speech: Time to Play the Game


(The following is a transcript of the commencement speech given by WGA President Chase Jones)

My name is Chase Jones, I get to serve in two roles today: 1, as President of the WGA, and if you’ve learned anything about Wharton thus far it’s that the only thing we love more than putting an acronym on everything is using those acronyms constantly around people who don’t know what they mean.

And 2 – do the impossible and follow Hamdi and Stu. Thanks for the worst spot in the speaker’s lineup, behind two amazing and incredibly impactful orations. Cheers to anyone having to follow you guys, and best of luck me.

Today is a day filled with passages, themes, hyperboles, and massive life goals, but I promise I will only give two quotes and one challenge, and will be short. Kind of short.

Before diving in, I do want to take the time to recognize some special people in the room – it is of course Mother’s Day, so – I LOVE YOU Mom and a huge shout out to all of the mothers who have literally made this day possible one way or another.

I also want to recognize one very special mother in the room today- my grandmother- who as been a lifelong mentor to me – she has traveled to over 100 countries, visited every US state capital, and took my brother and I skydiving for her 80th birthday. Yes- this woman rocks, and, proudly, she is also a cancer survivor.

She and I actually get to share this in facet common: One of the scariest yet impactful moments of my career at Wharton was to stand in front of 210 fellow classmates to let them know that I would be celebrating one of the largest milestones in my life while at school. Last year, I was able to proclaim being ten years cancer free. Naturally in true Wharton fashion, there was a karaoke party organized by my new classmates….. and on that anniversary, we raised funds to help kids currently battling cancer right here in Philly. And it was awesome.

The reason I bring this up is not for just a great story, which it is, or the sympathy  – candidly, I struggle with my own survivorship daily as so many of us in this room have been affected by cancer and do not have the same positive stories to tell.

However, I bring it up on the idea that I am alive solely as the beneficiary of the act of public service.

There was somebody who served on the board of directors that brought strategy to a capital campaign to raise the funding for the children’s hospital in which I was treated.

There was somebody who fought on the PTA board for a better classroom setting that enabled the doctor that saved me to pursue her dream.

There was somebody who led thoughts, prayers, and a community-wide support system as deacon of a local church.

In that light, I daresay that we are all the beneficiaries of public service, from the individuals we know who specifically sacrificed for us, to the ‘somebodies’ who we have no idea in how they helped get us to this moment today.

Now, as we collectively move forward, this graduating class from the absolute best Business School in the World, it is no longer ‘somebody’ who will be serving. It is us.

 First quote for you: John Adams, our 2nd President, wrote to is son while he was in college at a school in the northeast that was not named the #1 Business School in the World by Forbes in 2017 – but he said this: Public service, must always be done by somebody. If wise men decline it others will not: if honest men refuse it, others will not.

 What is encouraging is the skillset and education that all of us are now equipped with, and how much our respective communities, townships, parishes, states, and countries are longing for our action. Our knowledge. Our leadership.

And if you think about it, this makes sense – its undeniable, we are the best class to ever happen to Wharton. We’re a data school, and the data is profound – from our rankings, to our commitment to others proven in our giving, to our accomplishments in case competitions, accolades received, the job placements, soccer | rugby | hockey | basketball = > we won it all. And – the Eagles won the Super Bowl. It’s not correlation, it’s causation. We’re the best.

So – for us – whether that means the community organizer, the clergy of our temples, mosques, and chapels, the congresswoman, or the nonprofit board member, #MyWharton no longer means just a stretch experience or a sweet Instragram post. It means the absolute best – us – sitting on the precipice to get involved and shape our world.

Last quote – the benefit of having class with a two-time Super Bowl winner is that you get to hear quotes from NFL coaches — thank you Justin –  but one mentioned frequently is from the profound and loquacious former NY Giants Coach, Tom Coughlin: “Talk is cheap. Play the game.”

To the class of 2018 and everybody in this room who made today an actual reality – Public service is no longer somebody. It is us. Time to play the game.

Thank you.


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