Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

Dr. Hamel inspires SMC's 52nd Commencement

05/08/2019 - 1pm
Chairman Jerdon, Dr. Loren Hamel, President Mathews

Be engaged. Be inspired. Be loving.

Southwestern Michigan College graduation speaker Loren Hamel, M.D., at SMC’s 52nd Commencement May 4, offered the 403-member Class of 2019 these three success secrets.

Dr. Hamel, Spectrum Health Lakeland president, said research shows 31 percent of employees across the nation — less than a third — are fully engaged at their jobs. “If you decide to go to work enthusiastic and committed to doing the best, it will improve the culture of your organization, give you leadership potential and, hopefully, a raise. If your employer won’t, I guarantee you somebody else will.”

“This isn’t church,” Dr. Hamel said, “but there are a lot of different flavors of the word ‘inspire.’ If you’re inspired, it’s something that encourages you, gets you up in the morning and helps you do your best. It gives you passion and purpose.”

Dr. Hamel shared a couple examples from his storehouse of thousands of inspirational stories “that help drive me.” For example, the grandmother drifting between consciousness and a coma, where agitated patients are at risk of ripping out their lines. A nurse closed the door and “she and her colleagues sang hymns to (calm) the patient,” Dr. Hamel said.

Processions of students converge on Zollar gymnasium

“Love drives us all,” he said, “but often gets misused or abused” — especially in the workplace. He instructed graduates to turn to classmates on either side and give them their best broad smile.

“If you were anxious, you just relieved it,” Dr. Hamel said. “If you were stressed, you just had a relaxation response. Within a few one-thousandths of a second, you modulated your respiration and your pulse. Why shouldn’t you as alumni be the smilingest people in the world? When you smile people see you as better looking and younger.”

He struck a pose as he paced back and forth in front of the podium with a hand-held microphone. “Smiles are good for us and free to share, which is a way you can be loving at work every day.”

Dr. Hamel urged graduates to couple their smiles with making eye contact. “It’s so simple, yet unbelievably powerful. When you make eye contact, people trust you and they’re more likely to take you seriously. They see it as confidence and are more likely to remember what you say. We all think we’re good listeners, but as good a college as this is, I bet you didn’t have a course in listening. I didn’t. The science behind it is so clear. When you have a conversation, the other person will remember just 25 percent of what you said tomorrow. The average attention span in this country is only eight seconds.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon introduced the speaker by saying, “SMC has had a great partnership with Dr. Hamel as he witnesses the value and professionalism of SMC nursing graduates. He secured a very nice donation for the new SMC nursing building project. We very much appreciate his support of SMC and higher education.”

President Dr. David Mathews recognized four faculty members retiring with 75 years total service: Randy Flory, information technology; music instructor Fredrick Patrick, 20 years; graphic design instructor Bill Rothwell, 20 years; and Director of Bands Dr. Jon Korzun, 28 years. Flory’s seven years teaching IT at SMC followed 20 years serving in the U.S. Navy, from Virginia to Iceland, Spain and Scotland.