USAA CEO & MMI alumnus Stuart Parker Delivers 2016 Commencement Address

USAA CEO Stuart Parker Encourages MMI Grads to “Find Your Purpose and Pursue it with a Passion” in Commencement Address

MARION, Ala. – On Saturday, May 7, USAA CEO Stuart Parker delivered the Commencement Address for the Marion Military Institute (MMI) class of 2016. The junior college was honored to host the leader of a Fortune 150 company, one recruited from its alumni ranks.  

Stepping back onto campus for the first time in more than 30 years, Parker spent the morning getting acquainted with MMI senior staff at the President’s Quarters (circa 1912). Commencement exercises began at 10:00 a.m. in the William R. Ireland Athletic Center, where Parker complimented the college’s impact on U.S. military leadership and its whole-person approach to education.  

Initially, he asked the graduates to stand and wave at their loved ones in attendance, in gratitude for their support in helping them reach this milestone—attaining an associate’s degree under the demands of a military environment.

His advice to the graduating class: “Stay humble, be grateful, be flexible and find your purpose.” Parker stressed the importance of flexibility with a personal anecdote from his prior military career, when life threw him a curveball. At the age of 31, he was medically disqualified after serving 10 years as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. “My high-flying dreams of being a wing commander one day were grounded,” he recalled.  Readjusting his sights, Parker decided to pursue his passion for business, went back to school and earned his MBA. He would later found two small companies before joining the USAA staff in 1998 as a financial planner—a job he loved.

Eighteen years later, speaking as CEO of USAA, providing financial services to more than 11 million military members and their families, Parker asked the audience to remember veterans who have fallen on hard times. It’s one reason, he says, USAA is partnering with the community to end veteran homelessness in San Antonio where the company is headquartered.  

Following the recessional, many MMI graduates and their families thanked Parker for his encouraging words and took photo opportunities with him. Members of the cadet Swamp Fox organization, of which Parker was a member from 1979-80, sought him out to swap training stories during the reception that followed.

That afternoon, Parker, traveling with his wife, daughter and fellow USAA staffers, were boarding a flight for another event in Georgia. True to his work ethic, Parker would return to his other college alma mater, Valdosta State University, to deliver his second commencement address of the day for an 8:00 p.m. ceremony.  



About USAA: The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to 11.5 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable – and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio.