Alumni Leadership Speaker Series – Tony Gilliam

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Tony Gilliam Speaks at Alumni Leadership Speaker Series

By: Geneva Collins

“Appreciate where you’re at.” That was alumnus Tony Gilliam’s message last Thursday as he kicked off the Alumni Series.  Gilliam is quite accomplished as a sports announcer, starting in the pro wrestling ring and more recently announcing for the Carolina Panthers and the Hurricanes as well as the Final Four and the Kentucky Derby, but he acknowledged that it was all God’s doing, not his own. “God is 250% grace,” he told us.

The cool factor of his job was our first surprise, but the second soon followed: he didn’t graduate from Wake Christian. He came during middle school and then came back for high school, but he skipped class so much his senior year that he didn’t have the credits to graduate. It wasn’t that he wasn’t smart, he just didn’t appreciate the time he had here. His biggest regret, according to him, was wasting the support of his teachers here at Wake and the sacrifices his parents made to put him here. Wake Christian still helped to shape who he is today, but he knows now that if he had taken advantage of the opportunity God gave him, it could have been better. He wanted desperately for us not to make the same mistakes he did. Yes, he was successful now, but that was only by God’s grace – the same grace he had squandered in high school. He asked us to thank our teachers for caring about us and wanting to make us better because he never got to.

Gilliam was motivated by his love for God. It was the Lord that kept him grounded as he started moving up in the business, and it’s the Lord that keeps him going now; nothing else matters. He shared with us that just like we practice our sports and our arts, we need to practice if we want to be good at other things in life. Our work ethic sets our course in life, wherever God leads us. God opened the doors in Gilliam’s life, and He can open the doors in our lives, too. I think that’s what impacted me the most. His reliance on God for everything in life inspires me to keep putting God first and trusting Him to lead my steps.

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