Boston Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi Keynote Speaker at National University’s June 17 Southern California Commencement

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San Diegan shares his inspiring story of perseverance from refugee to multi-award-winning athlete

Meb Keflezighi will be National University's 2015 Southern California Commencement Speaker. Photo: courtesy of Meb Keflezighi.

Boston and New York Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi - the only athlete in history to win the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon and an Olympic Medal - will be the keynote speaker at the June 17 Southern California Commencement Ceremony for National University, the second-largest, private nonprofit university in California.

Keflezighi, whose story of perseverance resonates with athletes and non-athletes alike, grew up in San Diego after his family escaped war, famine and drought in Eritrea. He started running in middle school and went on to graduate from UCLA, where his track record includes four NCAA championships, 23 National Championships and a place on three United States Olympic teams.

This is Keflezighi’s first college commencement speaking engagement. He will be addressing more than 1,600 National University graduates representing 3,000 graduating students who have pursued their studies online and/or at campus locations in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. His story and message of determination to excel resonates with students at National University.

“It’s special because a lot of National University students are adult learners and working professionals, and in some cases they are raising families, so going back to school and earning a new degree takes a commitment, a constant commitment,” he said. “I understand where they are coming from and want to share with them the message that when you persevere and do the best you can, good things happen.”

Keflezighi also serves as a reminder that it’s never too late to dream big. Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon in 2014, just two weeks before turning 39, becoming the oldest winner of one of the world’s premier distance events in more than 80 years and the first American male to do so since 1983. He also won a Silver Medal at the 2004 Olympic Games.

“Meb is an inspiration to us all, and we are thrilled to have him as our keynote speaker for this year’s commencement,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, National University President and Chancellor of the National University System. “He reminds us every day that we all have the ability to shape our future and achieve our dreams.”

Transcending his own athletic achievements, Keflezighi maintains an unwavering commitment to helping others go the distance in their own lives – physically, professionally, personally and spiritually. A sought-after speaker and author, he emphasizes that real victory lies in balancing a healthy, active life that emphasizes education, community and a strong moral fabric. Today, Keflezighi resides in San Diego with his wife, Yordanos and their three daughters. He also oversees the MEB (Maintaining Excellent Balance) Foundation, which is committed to promoting youth health, education and fitness.

National University’s Southern California Commencement Ceremony gets underway at 2 p.m. at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego.

About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California. With 30,000 students and more than 140,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Five schools and one college – the College of Letters and Sciences; the School of Business and Management; the School of Education; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California.

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Anna Cearley
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