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Mount St. Mary's commencement speaker gets graduation ceremony at long last

Frederick News Post link to article

May 15, 2017

Richard P. Miller speaking at commencementOn a chilly April night 43 years ago, Richard Miller fell asleep behind the wheel of his Volkswagen Beetle.

Upon waking up, he saw the oncoming bridge abutment he was about to hit at 40 miles per hour. Miller was ejected from the car, which eventually rolled and landed on top of him.

For three hours, Miller lay trapped underneath the car. “All I could smell was gasoline,” he recalls. He had a 5 percent chance of living, he recalls physicians telling him.

With a broken leg, collapsed lung and several other injuries, Miller was transported to a shock trauma treatment center at University of Maryland.

He missed his graduation from Mount St. Mary’s University. His parents picked up his diploma.

On Sunday, Miller got the graduation ceremony he never personally attended.

He was the university’s Board of Trustees member who served as the speaker for the 209th commencement.

“I feel like I’m a part of the Class of 2017,” Miller said. “Walking down that aisle was very, very special to me.”

Miller was unofficially part of the graduating class of 522 students, 426 of whom took part in the commencement ceremony at Knott Arena. Many of the graduates will be going onto graduate degrees, or the business world with jobs in finance, business or accounting.

Lou Tonon, Class of 2017 MSMU Class PresidentOne graduate — Senior Class President Louis Tonon — will continue hanging around college campuses as he gets his next journey up and running.

During his time at the Mount, Tonon and two teammates on the tennis team developed an app called Campus Drive that he hopes to launch as a business shortly after graduation.

Campus Drive is a ride-hailing service strictly for college students to use as a resource opposed to drinking and driving.

Tonon launched the app at Mount St. Mary’s and had more than 100 people sign up in the first weekend. He and his girlfriend were the only drivers, because of the insurance liability, Tonon said.

“There’s clearly a demand for it, so we started thinking of how we could grow this into a real company,” Tonon said.

Tonon started doing research to see how many schools are in rural areas and aren’t served by ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Tonon said there are hundreds.

A round of investing has netted $150,000 for Campus Drive, and another $50,000 should be enough to bring the app and the service to the market, Tonon said.

As senior class president, Tonon spoke to his classmates in an address about his experience coming to the university. Mount St. Mary’s made him a more faithful Catholic, he told them. He fell in love.

He learned he wants to make a difference and be the best version of himself.

In his commencement address, Miller offered graduates 10 tips for heading out into the real world. Among them, he told graduates to strive to have a work-life balance. He told them to trust their intuition. He told them to be good listeners.

And most notably, he told graduates to bring their values everywhere.

That struck a chord with Tonon.

“No matter what you’re doing, I think we should all be trying to make the world better,” Tonon said. “Even if you’re sitting at home relaxing, watching TV or something, you can be thinking of how you can do something to make the world better. If you’re not doing that, then what are you doing?”

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