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Spencer Scholar Shane Hogan: 2018 Gala Dinner

Spencer Scholar Shane Hogan: 2018 Gala Dinner


Good evening everyone! And welcome to the
Spencer Educational Foundation Gala Dinner — the 10th annual Spencer gala
dinner! I’m excited to be here tonight, and I’d like to start by saying a
sincere thank you to the foundation, the board, and the Spencer staff for awarding
me grants in both 2016 and 2017. I’m thrilled to report back to
you that I graduated this summer with my master’s degree in Business
Administration from NYU! I’d also like to say a tremendous thank you to my Aon colleagues and my team who’ve supported me through the MBA journey. I was asked
to speak tonight about what the Spencer Educational Foundation means to me and I think that the best way to do that would be the start by telling you about the
day I learned I had been named a Spencer scholar. It was the Friday before
Memorial Day weekend two years ago I received a letter from a woman named
Angela Sabatino. I knew that name. I had a flashback and remembered that Angela
Sabatino had also administered a grant that I had applied for twice during my
undergraduate years a grant that unfortunately both years I did not
receive. You can imagine my surprise when, over ten years later, I opened a similar
letter but read a very different message. Congratulations!
Immediately, I called Angela and began to thank her repeatedly and I instinctively
said Angela I feel like I won the lottery. Without hesitation, Angela said
back to me, “Shane this is better than the lottery because you earned it.” Isn’t it
interesting how an offhand comment when made at just the right moment can
completely change the way you see an experience?
Angela’s words helped me to realize my part in the outcome, and I immediately
began to reflect on some of the other
accomplishments in my life that I had initially perceived as failures. My job:
Many people didn’t realize that when Pamela Neumann hired me to her team at
Aon I had initially pursued her for that position nearly seven years before,
but was unsuccessful. I’d like to say thank you Pamela tonight for offering me
that job and for being here this evening to support me. Earning my MBA: Earning my
MBA … honestly, I’m not even going to get into, this one, but let’s just say you know how
there are those people that make the application process and the GMAT look oh so easy? I’m not one of those people. The struggle was real, and at many points
along the way I felt like giving up. To anyone in the same spot feel free to
reach out to me if you need some encouragement. Finally, and to really
publicly embarrass myself, a live present in the moment example: the opportunity to
speak here this evening. I had been to this dinner in the past and knew that a
select few Spencer scholars were chosen to speak. Of course I wanted to be one
and if you know anything about me of course I reached out. Unfortunately, both
years I received the scholarship my request to speak was politely declined.
At the time I perceived these moments as failures, albiet small ones, but still
failures. But here I am speaking at the tenth anniversary dinner for the grant
that took me 10 years to get thank you so much to Marya,
Andrew and all of my friends at the Spencer foundation for making tonight
possible for me. These experiences in Angela’s words are
reassuring. For all the other goals I’m working hard to achieve that haven’t yet
happened. My experience with the Spencer Foundation is a reminder of an
invaluable lesson that perseverance in pursuing your goals despite failure does
in fact pay off in time. Not necessarily on my time, but just in time. It’s a
timely lesson around graduation as I’ve reached the peak of what feels like a
giant mountain that I’ve been climbing for the last three years!
If you’ve ever achieved a long time goal you know what I’m talking about. As
you’re climbing the mountain you inevitably experience times when you
just want to call it quits. It either becomes too difficult, or you slip and
you lose your footing. At these difficult points, the natural reaction is to look
down and to panic … to let the fear of how far you have to fall or in this case how
much you have to lose paralyze you. I was asked to speak tonight about what the
Spencer Educational Foundation means to me and if I had to distill my experience
with the foundation into some kind of a lesson like those from my MBA program
that I could bottle up and take with me for the next mountain I plan to climb, it
would be simple: to look up. When you look up three important things happen and
I’ll start with the worst-case scenario: you face plant… like I did on my first and
second attempts at the GMAT, the scholarships I didn’t receive, the job
offer I didn’t get, or the gala dinners I didn’t speak at. So What? Because you’re
looking up you’ll have perspective you’ll see that there’s more that lies
ahead and you’ll pick yourself back up again because this time you know how to
do it better and this time you know how to do it smarter. The second thing that
looking up gives you is a sense of direction so you know where you’re going.
I may not have fully appreciated this one before, but this sense of direction
is what led me to earn my MBA, my job offer at Aon, and the opportunity to
speak here this evening. Last, but certainly not least, when you look up you
see the bigger picture — the mountain as a whole. You appreciate that both the peaks
and the face-plants are just moments in time. Neither one of them define you
it’s how you approach the mountain, the journey, that’s what’s truly important.
Once you realize this you can really have fun, because while certain
circumstances may keep you from ever reaching a peak, nothing can stop you
from appreciating your journey appreciating, and celebrating the journey
is exactly what tonight is about. As Angela so inspiringly said to me two
years ago, I echo back to the Spencer Scholars this evening: you did earn it.
Whether you are a Spencer Scholar or you’re here supporting the Spencer
Scholars, there’s a lot to be excited about at this 10th anniversary dinner.
Thank you so much for this awesome opportunity.

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