Joseph Geagea Speech
"It is a pleasure to be here tonight and an honor to be recognized as a recipient of this Award.
"I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association, and to the Department of Civil Engineering and its head Professor Benito Mariñas.
"Joining me tonight is my wife Marianne. Thank you for your love, support and partnership. I could not it do it without you… Marianne got her civil engineering degree from Berkeley but I often remind her that I attended the best civil engineering school in the world.
"I stand before you tonight with humility and gratitude… When I look at the names of those you have honored in the past with this award, I feel very privileged… Walter Hanson, Ray Epstein, Harold Sandberg, Fazlur Khan. These are the giants I looked up to when I was going to school.
"I came to this country at the tender age 17 from a modest family. I had never been that far away from home. And right here, in the heart of the Midwest, I discovered America. The people I met at Illinois showed me kindness. They respected me for who I am and for my capabilities.
"My time at the U of I played a prominent role in my career. Every time I visit the campus, I am reminded of how my professors inspired and supported me when I was a student. One of those professors is here tonight. Prof. German Gurfinkel, your presence tonight means a lot to me. And here, I have to thank another Professor who could not be here this evening, William Hall. Prof. Hall was my advisor and his counsel to accept the job at Chevron is the reason I am standing in front of you. For Bill, I am forever grateful….
"Since I left the university, and over the last 34 years I have been fortunate to work with tremendous individuals, many of whom are engineers. Of the 60,000 employees at Chevron more than 13,000 are engineers. Each and every day, these engineers work hard to improve the standard of living of millions of people around the world by providing safe, reliable and affordable energy.
"I learned so much at Illinois and not just about engineering. People trusted me and took a chance on me. And I’ve tried to do the same. I try to take chances on people too. When I mentor younger folks, I help them see the art of the possible, to take a chance on themselves, to live up to their potential.
"In closing, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from this wonderful university and world class department. I am truly honored and humbled by the gesture.
"I congratulate the other recipients and I wish the Alumni Association, the U of I and its Civil Engineering Department continued success. Thank you."