By Evan Bentley
Bradley Lackey, an honors graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), took center stage during the 2023 fall commencement ceremony, delivering an address that resonates with the essence of EKU’s renowned reputation as the School of Opportunity.
Lackey began by recounting the moment that marked the start of his EKU journey. From his first steps on campus for a tour during the fall break of his senior year in high school, he said, “It feels like home,” echoing the sentiment that highlights the character of EKU for many students and graduates.
Although Lackey’s freshman year at EKU unfolded in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he attested to an undeniable energy, a sure sense of opportunity that persisted even in the face of unprecedented challenges.
“When you hear EKU being referred to as the School of Opportunity, and yes, I said THE School of Opportunity, do not take this expression lightly!” Lackey exclaimed. “You can sense it in the campus air like fresh burgers on a grill, and to me, it was irresistible.”
Lackey quoted a line from Tom Peters’ “In Search of Excellence”: If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.
Drawing inspiration from this wisdom, Lackey said, “I threw the window wide open!”
His window of opportunity became the overarching theme of his speech—an invitation for graduates to embrace the possibilities that define the EKU experience.
“Through my personal involvement in scholars programs and honor societies, as well as service in leadership positions and community outreach, I have developed new friendships and made professional connections both locally and nationally that will last a lifetime,” Lackey shared, emphasizing the tangible outcomes that result from seizing the opportunities that are curated at EKU.
“It is through these experiences that I have become a better scholar, leader, mentor and steward—valued traits that build strong character to guide my life’s narrative,” Lackey declared, shedding light on the transformative power of the opportunities offered at EKU. Beyond the acquisition of knowledge, EKU's legacy lies in the cultivation of well-rounded individuals poised to make a meaningful impact in their respective fields.
“As we leave this campus, I want us to reflect on all of the opportunities we have taken and the opportunities we missed,” he urged his fellow graduates, acknowledging failures as essential stepping stones to growth.
“If I can offer one piece of advice to you today, it would be to never overlook opportunity,” Lackey asserted. “None of us know what the future holds, but one thing I do know is that as long as we continue to take calculated risks, go outside of our comfort zone, and yes, take advantage of opportunities, there is no limit to what we can accomplish in life.”
Lackey's journey at EKU emerged as a powerful narrative—one that not only celebrated personal achievements but underscored the importance of contributing to the success of others. “Class of 2023, we have done it! We are college graduates! But as those older and wiser than us would say, our journey is just beginning,” he declared. “So, fellow scholars, I call on you to go forth and make history. Make everyone affiliated with this prestigious university proud. Continue to build on the EKU legacy. Seek ways that you can now create opportunities for others.”
EKU’s legacy, embodied by graduates like Bradley Lackey, extends beyond individual accomplishments—it becomes a collective narrative of seizing opportunities, embracing challenges and creating game changers for generations to come.
To the fall graduates, EKU President David McFaddin said, “You have set yourselves apart, marking a milestone that will not only shape your own lives but also leave a lasting impact on those around you and generations to come. This unique quality is what defines us as the School of Opportunity. The diplomas you hold in your hands will create a ripple effect, opening doors to opportunities that might otherwise remain closed.”
Lackey, an Honors Scholar graduate, also spoke at the EKU Honors convocation on Friday. He graduated on Saturday with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science.