Eric Greitens, former U.S. Navy Seal and chief executive officer of The Mission Continues, aimed to inspire students when he spoke about overcoming challenges Friday at the Cullen Performance Hall in a lecture put on by the College of Education.
“This (lecture) was really aimed towards the students,” Greitens said. “We need each and every one of them as they head out to be of service to others.”
Greitens worked as a humanitarian volunteer in many countries, including Rwanda, Cambodia and India, while attending Duke University.
After earning his doctorate in 2000, he joined the U.S. Navy Seals and was deployed four times to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Southeast Asia.
When he returned from Iraq, he used his combat pay to found The Mission Continues, a non-profit organization that aids veterans who want to continue serving their community.
“Mr. Greitens’ lecture was an unimaginable pleasure to attend. He spoke about how an educator’s career choice was going to be continuously challenging but that teachers need to view these challenges as evolutions of character,” said interdisciplinary studies senior Haleigh Land.
“He drew parallels of this idea to his experience in the U.S. Navy, trying to complete very challenging evolutions to get to the next step of becoming a Navy Seal. The idea that every choice I make to help me overcome a challenge also helps change and shape my character was a fantastic way to describe my years to come.”
Greitens advised students serving the community to keep in mind why they do that and to create a culture of storytelling within their organizations to help people remember the success stories during challenging times.
He also urged students to be empathetic and use their imaginations to develop compassion.
“Greitens’ message of always giving back to others, trying to stand in someone else’s shoes and knowing that everyone has a purpose in life drew me in,” Land said. “His message overall reignited my inspiration to become the best teacher I can be.”
Greitens presented the lecture to a nearly full audience; it was open to all UH students and faculty, as well as some guest elementary schools, including the fifth grade class from the UH Charter School.
“I absolutely love the mission of the University of Houston,” Greitens said. “UH serves one of the most important cities in the country and is instrumental in educating the leaders of tomorrow.”