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‘Believe in yourself’ Spears says at opening chapel

‘Believe in yourself’ Spears says at opening chapel
Dr. H. Keith Spears addresses students, faculty and staff during the first chapel of the semester at Campbellsville University. (Campbellsville University Photo by Gerard Flanagan)

By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications

Dr. H. Keith Spears, interim president for Campbellsville University, asked at the first chapel of the semester Sept. 1, “From where does your strength come?”

“If you search the scriptures, you will find there is a real good place to put your strength in,” Spears said. “That’s in the Lord. The Lord will help you. You can say, I’m having so many problems. We all do.”

Spears also recited a Japanese proverb that says: “Fall seven times and stand up eight.”

Spears told three stories of famous people who overcame adversity and obtained success. The first story involved a young newspaper man from Missouri.

“He was doing sketches for the newspaper, and they said he was not creative enough,” Spears said.

After working at a grocery store, the man decided to take a job acting out telegram messages.

“That sounded really great, because he thought he was an actor, too,” Spears said. “He thought it would go really well. It didn’t. He lost money and went out of business.”

The man then went to Los Angeles to become an actor, but his dreams were dashed there too.

Finally, he found his break when he created the famous animated short film Steamboat Willie. That man was Walt Disney.

Spears’ second story began with a young woman who wanted to fly airplanes but was not allowed to because she was female. She eventually joined the Flying Aggies, a student flying club at Oklahoma State University, and then tried to become an astronaut. She was denied because she was female.

She then volunteered with a group of women who trained to become astronauts on the Mercury 13 mission and then tried to become a commercial pilot. Both times, she was denied because she was female. Then, in the 1980s, NASA began allowing females into its ranks. However, this time, she was denied because of her age.

She went on to become the chief pilot at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and also worked for the National Transportation Safety Board. Finally, earlier this year, that woman—Wally Funk—had the chance to fly into space as part of Blue Origin’s first human flight into space.

“She became the oldest astronaut to fly,” Spears said.

Spears’ third story involved a young New York salesman whose sales ideas were seen as radical. He was rejected from college and then picked up work as a leather stretcher. He eventually found his way to Northern Michigan University, where he graduated with a degree in business.

After graduation, he began selling coffee grinders. Then, he began exploring the idea of opening places for people to sit down and drink coffee. He went to Seattle and introduced that idea to a group of investors. His idea was rejected.

“The banker stepped up and said, ‘Nobody is going to leave their home just to go downtown to sit and drink their coffee,’” Spears said.

However, that man, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, persisted.

“Believe in what you do,” Spears said. “Believe in yourself. If you have an idea, don’t let anyone get in the way. If you’re knocked down, get right back up. Not only believe in yourself but learn to communicate that message. One of the things you’re going to learn in college is how to communicate.”

All chapel services are free of charge and are televised live on WLCU (Comcast Cable channel 10 and digital channel 15.1) and streamed live on the internet at and All chapel services can be found archived on the Campbellsville University Chapel YouTube channel at

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,500 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is