Gene Kranz encourages graduates to maximize their potential

Posted: Tuesday, 16 December 2014

MONTGOMERY - Legendary NASA Flight Control Director Gene Kranz urged Troy University graduates on Monday to never settle for less than their best.

Kranz, who led the effort to bring Apollo 13 safely back to earth following an explosion in space, delivered the keynote address to graduates on the University's Montgomery Campus during the ceremony at the Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts.

More than 125 graduates received degrees this fall at the Montgomery Campus.

Kranz told graduates human nature often makes us settle for less than our best but that it is up to each individual to rise above.

"We tend to use only about a quarter of our potential as we become satisfied with our movement toward our goals," Kranz said. "We often say that we are doing our best when we could accomplish far more if we strive toward maximizing our potential."

Kranz told graduates that while this was a time of celebration of a milestone event in their lives they should never stop seeking to learn and grow.

"You will be faced daily with challenges, possibilities and opportunities to make a difference," he said. "Wherever you go from this point forward, I encourage you to continue to learn and grow."

Defining leadership as the responsibility for events and people, Kranz urged graduates to always be ready for their "leadership moment."

"Leaders learn from others, but leaders make themselves," he said. "Learn from others. Evaluate the leadership skills you see work for others, test them and implement those that work well in your life. Always strive to be ready because your leadership moment may come at any moment."

In closing, Kranz encouraged graduates to approach life with a positive attitude.

"Your attitude governs your life," he said. "Through hard work and a positive attitude you may achieve your goals and have a tremendous influence on others."

A veteran Air Force pilot during the 1950s, Kranz joined NASA in 1960 as assistant flight director for Project Mercury. Kranz was selected as division chief for Flight Control in 1968, and continued his duties as flight director for the Apollo Program. Known for wearing his famous white vests during missions, Kranz was the flight director for many Apollo missions, including the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and he led the "Tiger Team" for the successful return of the Apollo 13 crew. He was portrayed by Ed Harris in the film "Apollo 13."

Kranz was a co-recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Nixon for the Apollo 13 mission, and was designated a Distinguished Member of the Senior Executive Service by President Reagan.

Gene Kranz - 2014 Fall Montomery Commencement

Legendary NASA Flight Control Director Gene Kranz, who led efforts to save Apollo 13, delivered the keynote to Troy University graduates during the fall commencement ceremony for the Montgomery Campus on Monday, Dec. 15. More than 125 students received degrees this fall at TROY's Montgomery Campus. (TROY photo/Kevin Glackmeyer)