William Woods University is pleased to announce that Jimmy Wayne, an award-winning country music singer and New York Times best-selling author, will give the 2017 commencement address on Saturday, May 6.
The festivities will begin with the traditional Ivy Ceremony at 9:30 a.m., followed by the undergraduate commencement at 10 a.m. The graduate commencement ceremony will then be conducted at 2 p.m. It is anticipated that almost 400 graduates, plus their families and friends, will attend the events.
Over the years, William Woods has hosted actors, authors, talk show hosts, executives, senators, and presidents as commencement speakers.
“We are honored that Jimmy Wayne has accepted our invitation to address our graduates this year,” said President Jahnae H. Barnett. “His life has been a remarkable journey — one that should inspire our community.”
Wayne has lived a circuitous path of incredible highs and harrowing lows.
An early existence of starvation, abuse, foster care, parental abandonment, detention centers, and homelessness, mixed with some life-changing teachers and saviors, led him to Nashville as a chart-topping country singer and songwriter. With hits like “Stay Gone,” “Paper Angels,” and “Do You Believe Me Now,” Wayne cemented his place in the country music stratosphere. He recorded with Hall & Oates, toured with Brad Paisley, earned the prestigious “Million-Air Award,” and graced the stage at Madison Square Garden.
In 2010, Wayne walked halfway across America to bring awareness to children who age out of the foster system and become homeless. He had promised himself that when he made it in the music industry, he would speak out for those kids — and he kept that promise by hiking 1,700 miles from Nashville to Phoenix and working with state governments to extend foster care to age twenty-one. His odyssey resulted in the New York Times bestseller “Walk to Beautiful.”
During the William Woods commencement, Wayne will present his story — one that shows how you need to start where you are and move forward.
Check out one of his music videos: