Marquette Wire

KELLY: Inspired by Forty under 40

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The Milwaukee Business Journal recently unveiled its annual Forty under 40 list, recognizing influential young leaders in Milwaukee. Fifteen percent of the list are tied to Marquette.

First of all, that’s outstanding. Hats off to the the five graduates and one professor who were honored. In a city with two other top colleges, and considering the strong Chicagoland influence, Marquette owning six out of 40 is quite an achievement.

“It’s a great group of honorees,” said Mark Kass, editor of the Business Journal, in a story announcing the list. “They represent the best and brightest of the future community leaders of southeast Wisconsin.”

Something about the words: “future community leaders” resonated with me, especially while watching the gold medal hockey game on Sunday.

Seeing wunderkinds Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby work their magic on the ice on Sunday, it hit me.

These guys are 21 and 22. At our age, they’ve already reached the pinnacle of their profession, representing their country on a global stage.

Which begs the daunting question: “What have I done?”

The answer: Not much.

Clearly, my chance at athletic greatness passed a while ago (unless you count intramural basketball). Contrary to what I thought at 11, I’m not the starting 3-guard for Duke. Nor am I the Cardinals’ third baseman. Except when I play Xbox, I won’t be suiting up for Team USA anytime soon. Shocking, right?

It’s been a long time since I actually looked up to athletes as heroes. But the combination of watching my peers in the Olympics and seeing the Forty under 40 list led me to a brief moment of clarity: We’re not all that young anymore.

Kids my age are now the stars I admired as a child. And sooner than later, we’ll be where today’s Forty under 40 are.

Being a community leader is a realistic goal. To be recognized on a list like this speaks volumes about who you are and what you mean to the community in the present and future.

Not everyone has the chance to fling the puck into the net to win a gold medal. But all of us can aspire to excel in our chosen field.

David Baker is the Marquette teacher on the list. An associate professor of biomedical sciences, Baker made the list for his achievements in researching treatments for central nervous system disorders.

He founded a start-up pharmaceutical company and has already received millions in grants for his work.

“It is not often that a teacher-scholar receives millions of dollars in grants from such prestigious entities as the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and establishes a business to develop and commercialize discoveries made in his laboratory,” said University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild. “Let alone to do so before the age of 40.”

Speaking of future business leaders, a group of students from the graduate school of management recently beat out teams from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to take home the Association for Corporate Growth Cup and its $5,000 in prize money for presenting the best hypothetical investment opportunity.

This is only a glimpse of the achievements by our students and staff.

And if the recent heavy Marquette presence on the Forty under 40 is any indication, future honorees walk among us.

At Marquette, we’re learning how to be leaders. Not strictly business leaders, either. The banners and posters around campus remind us — in gentle platitudes — what we’re here for.

Not only to go to class, get grades and graduate, but to be molded. Shaped into … something. We’re here for an experience. Let’s take advantage of what we have here. These six men and women did.

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