Why being a Jayhawk is a divine advantage

Posted on Feb 15, 2018 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Jerry Skillett, b’81, recently shared his story of the power of being a Jayhawk in the workplace in the KU Alumni LinkedIn group. Skillett is a member of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.

Jerry Skillett, b'81, member of the KU Alumni national board of directorsYou might wonder how someone with roots in Leroy, Kansas, population 561, could come from such a humble beginning and end up in New York as the founder of the second-largest (hope largest soon—all Jayhawks strive to be No. 1) parking company in the United States. I attribute it to the University of Kansas and the incredible network and power of the Jayhawk brand.

KU for me was the gateway to a much bigger possibility. Believe me, it was a quantum leap to go to KU, where there were more students in my organic chemistry class than in my whole high school. I struggled through a lot of it, but being a Jayhawk and thinking about all of the other brilliant Jayhawks made me determined to be a part of this incredible connection of people. Looking back to graduation in 1981 (wow, that long ago?), just the commitment to step into the challenge and complete it was such a catapult of energy. There was nothing that I could not achieve.

While I would love to say that I was an outrageously successful student (nope), or that I was a wildly popular party guy (hardly), I had an amazing experience nonetheless. How many of us can admit to getting a D in computer science, yet using that background to later start four software companies (yes, it’s true), or even building on an incredible 2.65 grade point average (rounded up to 3.0!) to become an innovator, industry leader and founder of a company with $1 billion in revenue and 8,000 employees? (Jayhawk Power!)

Today, in every meeting I attend, I have this Jayhawk sticker on the back of my portfolio. Ninety percent of the time, anyone I am meeting from around the world knows what the Jayhawk represents and wants to talk about it and how they have a KU connection. My wife, Leonor, a Southern California native, is now truly convinced that the world revolves around Kansas. I’ve always known it does.

Hey, Jayhawks, let’s hear your success stories and help you connect with fellow alumni. 2018 is going to Rock Chalk.

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