EKU Commencement Speaker Motivates Graduates with Father's Inspiring “No Fear!” Philosophy

Published on December 04, 2023

By Sarah Bashford

Mackenzie Maawac and their father have shared a lifelong philosophy that instilled the importance of independence and strength. “No fear!”, a motto adopted by the pair, was inspired by Maawac’s favorite childhood movie. 

“We created this phrase because the original Mulan has been my favorite movie since I was a toddler,” said Maawac. “She always embodied the kind of person I wanted to be when I grew up: bold, intelligent, tough and, most importantly, fearless in the face of challenges and enemies.”

Maawac stayed focused on this philosophy while navigating major life transitions and the looming pandemic after graduating high school. As most new students experience when beginning college, they felt scared and had many doubts. 

Maawac shared how the movie and its guiding theme helped them overcome fear and achieve their academic goals during EKU’s fall commencement ceremony for the College of Justice, Safety, and Military Science; College of Education and Applied Human Sciences; and College of Health Sciences. 

“Just last year, I doubted my ability to make it in the criminal justice world. I worried that I was too small, too inexperienced, and not as driven as my peers,” said Maawac. “Upon rewatching Mulan, however, I realized that as strong and independent as she was, her story is just like ours. She left home and was alone, too, trying to navigate without her family at her side. She had those same fears and questions that we did.”

Finding similarities in their favorite childhood story, Maawac realized that, just as Mulan had many people in her corner throughout her journey, they had many people supporting them through their college journey.

“Just like us, she wasn’t actually alone,” they said. “Mushu, cricket and her ancestors guided Mulan all along the way. For me, I had my family, friends like Anna Nguyen who I met week two of freshman year, amazing professors like Christina Dewhurst, Lieutenant Paul Boyles for his homicide class that re-sparked my interest in criminal justice and all of the professors in EKU’s Spanish Department and El Centro, who have given me countless opportunities to grow and become a better person.”

Maawac addressed their peers with a heartfelt message to pursue aspirations without fear.

“I want everyone here this morning to take this message with them. Yes, life is scary and unpredictable. Yes, there will be challenges and doubts that will make you hesitate or want to quit. It’s normal to feel all of those things. But your response to it is what’s most important,” Maawac said. “Regret clings tightly to those who have it. Definitely consider the risks. But, if something is important to you, or you genuinely feel called to something, don’t let your fear control you. Throw yourself into your passions fully, stand up for the things you believe in and just remember to tell yourself and the challenges ahead of you: ‘No fear!’”

Maawac plans to apply to the Lexington Police Department to fulfill their goal of becoming a homicide detective. 

EKU recognized over 1,300 graduate candidates from its six academic colleges during the fall commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. The commencement ceremonies can be viewed in their entirety on EKU’s website