The full version of this story, which appears in Sunday’s Life section of The Oklahoman, was compiled by The Oklahoman’s Features and Entertainment Staff, including yours truly. To read graduation advice from other Oklahomans, go to NewsOK.com.
Beyond ‘laugh often,’ ‘live much’: unique words of wisdom
If they knew then what they know now, here is what an assortment of Oklahomans would say to today’s graduates — or wish they had heard at their own graduation.
Thousands of Oklahoma students are graduating in the month of May; many this weekend. We asked some notable and interesting Oklahomans what they’d say to this year’s graduates, or what they wish they would have heard at their graduations.
First on our list are thoughts about college from a father-daughter team, Oklahoma country music superstar Toby Keith, who wanted his daughter to go to college, and his daughter, Krystal Keith, emerging recording artist, who didn’t:
Toby Keith, 51, Oklahoma country music superstar: ‘Be relentless’
“You just have to be really careful because some of these colleges are teaching such a political view in classes that have nothing to do with politics … but I still think it’s important. You just have to research it. Find your way. Have a game plan and carry it out.
“And be relentless. Don’t let anybody outwork you. I told them the day I signed my record deal, ‘There may be people out-sing or out-write me or sell more tickets than me or more records than me, but they’ll never outwork me.’ And they never did. There was no one that put in the time that we did. …
“So be productive, have a plan and carry it out. And give back.”
Krystal Keith, 27, emerging Oklahoma country music recording artist who just released her first EP, daughter of country superstar Toby Keith and University of Oklahoma graduate
“After high school, I was like ‘Nashville, here I come.’ And he (her country superstar dad, Toby Keith) was like, ‘No, I said college.’ I was like, ‘No you didn’t. You just said graduation,’ and he’s like ‘college graduation.’
“I kind of thought that I would work my way out of having to go to college. I got to do ‘Mockingbird’ (a hit duet with her dad), and I had the fever. So I kind of didn’t really take school seriously the first year or two, and he did not give in. I thought that he would eventually be like, ‘OK, college isn’t your thing; let’s just go into music.’ And he held his ground and just was really firm on it. Finally, I was just like ‘You know what, he’s not giving in. I’ve gotta get this over with or I’ll never have a music career.’ And I literally did four years of school in 2 ½ years; I took every intercession, everything. …
“He definitely knew what he was doing. I can’t tell you how immensely important the experience of college was on my life, just finding out who you are and just getting life experience and being around other people. The whole experience matures you, so to have the life skills and life knowledge I have now, it helps me with my writing. It helps me with every aspect of my career. You know, I took business classes, so that helps me on the business side of it. If I would have gone into this industry at 18, there’s no telling where I’d be right now. No telling. It really gives you the opportunity to become who you need to be to survive in this world.
“I fought it, and I’m actually thinking about getting my MBA now. So to go from somebody that really fought having to go to college at all to somebody that’s considering an MBA just because I want it is a pretty big turnaround I would say.”