Chick-Fil-A founder has words of advice for graduates - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Chick-Fil-A founder has words of advice for graduates

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Graduates of Columbia International University were encouraged to ‘eat more chicken' at their commencement Friday.

That's because the 90-year-old founder of Chick-Fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, shared the stage with them and received an honorary doctorate.

S. Truett Cathy's daughter, Trudy Cathy White, gave the commencement address and in it she talked a lot about her dad who she says started his first business 65 years ago.

"I remember having a dad who smelled like chicken all the time," said White. "I just thought that was the cologne he wore, but- that was my Dad."

Today- her dad is a household name and founder of a chain that takes in more than $3.6 billion annually.

S. Truett Cathy says he came from humble beginnings, "I remember as a kid- the only thing I had to play with was a loose tooth," joked Cathy.  "And that tooth wasn't mine-- it was my brothers."

All jokes aside, Cathy told graduates his humble beginnings have always kept things in perspective. So how has he done it? Cathy says the Bible is his instruction manual.

"It tells us in the Bible how to treat your customers: treat your customers how you want to be treated," said Cathy.

Cathy's desire to keep Christian-based principals in business practices is what earned him the honorary doctorate at CIU.

"He's a man that has not really looked for rewards, but he's really looked to try to help other people," said White. "I'm most appreciative for the lifestyle that he's lived—he's been a tremendous role model."

White encouraged graduates to become a S.T.A.R. and focus on Stewardship, Teamwork, Acts of Excellence and Relationships. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven," quoted White from the Bible.

Cathy says Proverbs 22:1 is his life verse, "We're taught in the Bible that ‘a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,'--  in the food business we've got to do things right each and every time— not just sometimes—every time."

Cathy finished his speech to the graduates by offering what he calls his best advice, "Be at your best at all times! Why not-- be at your best at all times? Why not?"

And as he began to walk away from the podium, he turned back and shouted, "Eat more chicken!"

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