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How did you succeed in a very male world? I was a professional. I never cried, never said “poor me,” never asked for a quarter-inch. The guys trusted me because I took care of them and they knew I wasn’t going to throw them in.

Is credit part of success? I believe there’s no end to what you can accomplish as long as you don’t mind who takes the credit. If you know who you are, it’s OK to step aside and let someone else take the bow. That’s not being self-effacing; that’s good business. What sells tickets? Not I.

Any advice for today’s students? Find out what makes you happy, and then do it. You can’t succeed if you’re unhappy doing what you’re doing.

JOAN BOWLES AVERETTE ’58 Physical education major Certificate in lay ministry, Wesley Theological Seminary Lay minister, Thalia United Methodist Church; master swimmer, Virginia and National Senior Games Virginia Beach, Va.

How do you define success?

I guess when you’ve been to your 50th reunion, raised four wonderful girls, have nine grandchildren, and are pushing 76, it’s time to reflect on your successes and failures, and try with God’s help to discern the fu- ture path. After George, my husband of 40 years, died unexpectedly, I was faced with many challenges. Success was measured in very small steps. Now, three years later, I feel as though the black cloud has lifted and I can move ahead.

body in a good state of fitness, but I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t fun and rewarding.

What makes a successful lay minister?

A love of God, a love of people, and a real desire to be of serv- ice. My hope is that I can make a difference in at least one life.

ART RICHARDSON ’77 Government major MA in national security and strategic studies, Naval War College Navy captain; veteran of intelligence operations in Bosnia, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan; presiding officer, Physical Evaluation Board Washington, D.C.

How do you define success?

Dying with a sense that my life has been worthwhile. I realize that “worthwhile” is a bit squishy, and I’ll either sense it or I won’t when the time comes. Easy answers—money, security, happiness, family, fame, beating the odds, smooth skin— might or might not represent elements of success or of fail- ure. But if you can die with a sense that your life, despite all its baggage and blunders, has been worthwhile, it puts all the other scorecard items into their right place and proportion.


What did success mean when you first graduated? We all wanted to land a teaching job in a desirable location. Falling in love and getting married soon after graduation caught a few of us off guard, so new and often conflicting ideas of success began to emerge—to be a supportive wife, to juggle career and family. Not that we didn’t like being moth- ers, but we had just spent four years learning how to be out- standing teachers. Our ideas of success had to change from personal and career-oriented to family-oriented.

What’s the secret to success in your swimming? It’s no big secret—a lot of hard work, a small amount of tal- ent, and a wonderful love of the water. I am increasingly aware that I need to continue swimming just to keep my

Has your definition changed over time? How I articulate it has changed. All through life, each of us looks back upon moments that felt joyful and realizes that they were trag- ic, cruel, or wrong-headed. And we look back upon failures or embarrass- ments and find they have come to un- derpin our compassion or strength of character. I wouldn’t trade those diffi- cult moments. Success, in the short term, eludes any reliable definition.

How important is being successful?

In my current job, I adjudicate determinations of fitness and disability for ill and injured marines and sailors. I cannot succeed in my work; I can only do my best to apply law, pol- icy, and principle. The best I can do is make my personal slice of this terrible business as fair as circumstances allow.

What does it mean to live a successful life? I have no idea, beyond the selfish notion of “worthwhile,” what success means, but I’m almost 100 percent sure it is very, very important. Maybe it means I don’t have to start over as a cockroach or as somebody’s socks, or maybe I get fewer beatings in purgatory. Perhaps I get a good night’s sleep. That would be nice.


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