livingstone founders day
By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury Post
A national health insurance company executive encouraged Livingstone College students to work hard and give back at the college’s annual Founders’ Day celebration. If they do, he said, they can make a difference.
The Livingstone community gathered for the 129th celebration of Founders’ Day to remember Dr. Joseph Charles Price, the first president of the college.
Current Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins told students that Anthony Welters grew up in a one-room apartment in Harlem, N.Y., sleeping behind a curtain with three brothers.
He shined shoes, sold papers and swept floors at a local barbershop.
Today, Welters is the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, a company that serves 70 million Americans.
Jenkins recalled a 2005 interview in which Welters said that the most important lesson he learned from those small jobs in Harlem was that “you can always do more than you did the day before.”
Welters told students that neither of his parents graduated from high school, but his mother instilled in all her children “a zest for education.”
“In the early years, it was not easy for us,” he said.
Sometimes the lights went out, and the family spent a year or so on welfare.
Even though things were tough, Welters said he didn’t realize he grew up poor until he went to high school.
But growing up poor doesn’t have anything to do with what you can accomplish, he said.
“Too often I hear people associate poverty with failure. Those are two separate paths that really should never meet, because we can all do more today than yesterday,” Welters told students.
“Where you come from is a fact of time, space, place; where you end up is all on you,” he said.
In business, there are 10 legitimate reasons why something can’t happen, he said, “but I’m looking for that one legitimate reason it can happen.”
“Always be willing to work harder than everyone else. Never take no for the answer; be willing to sacrifice, be willing to work hard and great things will happen,” he said.
Welters said people couldn’t understand why he left a successful career in government to take over a bankrupt business.
Within the past year, Welters said, a person came to speak with him and his wife, Beatrice, about an idea he had.
“I told him he was moving too fast and he could learn more,” Welters said.
Welters said his wife took him aside and told him that was exactly what people told him early in his career and he didn’t have any right to say it to anyone else.
Welters said he ended up telling the man he would be supportive.
“The conversation occurred less than a year ago with Senator Obama,” Welters said.
“Just imagine if everyone was patient and waited their turn. Where would we be?” he asked.
Welters told students they have the ability “to make a difference in the life of one person.” If they are willing to make a difference, he said, that one person would be willing as well.
“That’s what builds a community,” he said. “It’s each of us willing to do a little bit more than we did the day before. And that’s how we can change our society.”
Welters asked the students “to commit yourselves … that you, whatever you choose to do, will do it a little bit better with a little more discipline, a little more focus than you did the day before. It’s the little things that matter.”Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or email@example.com.