BU Sargent College Commencement Speaker Urges Graduates, “Don’t be Afraid to Fail”
(Boston) – Addressing more than 500 Boston University Sargent College graduates and 3,000 guests, disabled advocate, businessman, and BU alumnus, Kevin McGuire shared his lifetime of experience and encouraged Sargent’s class of 2012 to “not be afraid to fail.”
“Life is experiential,” explained McGuire as he recounted his experience auditioning for and landing a principal role working alongside Tom Cruise in “Born on the 4th of July” while working night court at the Bronx DA’s office. “You just keep learning and getting better as time goes on.”
McGuire was left paralyzed after being struck by an intoxicated driver at the age of seven. Through years of extensive physical and occupational therapy, McGuire regained mobility in his upper body, but remains a quadriplegic. He extolled the efforts of rehabilitation professionals and the difference they made in his recovery and his life.
“You need to know the impact my PTs, OTs, Rehabilitation Counselors had on my life,” explained McGuire. “As a seven year old quad, my life revolved around all types of therapy. Forgetting the physical work and constant range of motion exercises, I was playing five different musical instruments. I was weaving hideous looking rugs, and making hot plates with small ceramic tiles, anything to work on finger dexterity.”
“I’ve always considered individuals who pursue Sargent College-related programs to be special, unique, and full of compassion,” said McGuire. “The relationships with specialists like you, professionals working with me were too special, too personal to put into words.”
Dean of BU Sargent College Gloria Waters, Ph.D., pointed to McGuire’s determination, strength of character, and compassion as a model for this year’s graduates, “Kevin embodies the type of inspirational commitment to disability rights taught at Sargent and practiced by our students and alumni.”
As Chairman and CEO of McGuire Associates, McGuire assists organizations in effectively and proactively meeting the standards prescribed by the American Disability Act (ADA), a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on physical or cognitive disability. His firm works with corporations and large venues such as stadiums, museums, libraries, and theatres in anticipating and responding to barriers to accessibility. McGuire Associates has helped develop and implement technology applications such as websites for people who are blind or partially sighted and/or deaf or hard of hearing; state-of-the-art multichannel assistive listening devices; telecommunication devices for the deaf and hard of hearing; technology for adaptive theater experiences to assist patrons who are blind or partially sighted and/or deaf or hard of hearing; and Museum Exhibit Guide technology for adaptive museum experiences for visitors with sensory disabilities. The firm has also created a Disability Evacuation Plan to help people with disabilities safely evacuate a building in the event of emergency.
McGuire Associates’ clients include the TD Garden, Live Nation/Ticketmaster, Green Bay Packers, Bank of America, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Los Angeles Lakers, Shubert Organization, New England Patriots, Showcase Cinemas, New York Giants, Boston Opera House, Starwood Hotels, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco Giants, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and 20th Century Fox, as well as the Department of Justice, which seeks the company’s assistance during investigations of possible ADA violations.
McGuire concluded his address by telling Sargent’s class of 2012, “Graduates, whatever fields you all decide to focus, more likely than not, you will have an incredible, positive impact on many lives. I’m only one example.”