Sacramento, Calif. – April 19, 2016 – Boston and New York Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi – who most recently made history for becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic team runner when he competes at the Rio de Janeiro games this summer – has been named the keynote speaker at the May 1 Northern California Commencement Ceremony for National University, the second-largest, private nonprofit university in California.
“Meb is an incredible role model who never tires of setting new goals for himself, and whose message resonates strongly with our University community: that no matter where you are in life, it’s never too late to do great things,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the National University System. “We are very excited and honored that he is taking time from his very busy training schedule to speak to our graduating students and share his inspiring story of endurance and perseverance.”
At a time when most distance runners are well into retirement, Keflezighi stunned the sporting world earlier this year when he finished with a time of 2:12:20 at the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in Los Angeles, securing a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Keflezighi, who also won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, will be 41 when he competes this year. He said he is pleased to share his message with National University graduates, many of whom are adult learners juggling work, families and other responsibilities while pursuing dreams of furthering their own education.
“It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, and it’s an honor to speak to students who understand the commitment it takes to go back to school and earn a new degree,” Keflezighi said. “So many National University graduates are working professionals, but they refuse to let anything get in their way of reaching their goal. I want to applaud their successes and to encourage them to pursue their passions to contribute for the greater good.”
Born in Eritrea, Africa, Keflezighi and his family escaped famine, drought and a brutal war of liberation from Ethiopia, eventually making their way to San Diego. He started running in middle school and went on to graduate from UCLA, where his track record includes four NCAA championships, 23 National Championships and a place on four United States Olympic teams. Keflezighi keeps getting better with age. He won the 2014 Boston Marathon just two weeks before turning 39, becoming the oldest winner of one of the world’s premier distance events in more than 80 years. The victory also made Keflezighi the only athlete in history to win the New York Marathon (2009), the Boston Marathon and an Olympic medal.
Keflezighi maintains an unwavering commitment to helping others go the distance in their own lives – physically, professionally, personally and spiritually. He is a sought-after speaker and author, and he emphasizes a healthy, active life that emphasizes education, community and a strong moral fabric. Raising three daughters with his wife, Yordanos, Keflezighi also oversees the MEB (Maintaining Excellent Balance) Foundation, which is committed to promoting youth health, education and fitness.
The 2016 National University Northern California Commencement Ceremony is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, at the Sacramento Convention Center. It will be presided over by both Chancellor Cunningham and National University’s new President, Dr. David Andrews, who started at the University April 1, 2016. More than 500 graduates are expected to attend the ceremony, which includes students completing their degree programs online and at the University’s Northern California locations, which includes Rancho Cordova, San Jose, Fresno, Stockton and Redding.
About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California. With 30,000 students and more than 180,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Four schools and two colleges – the College of Letters and Sciences; the Sanford College of Education; the School of Business and Management; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 75 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California.