Psychology prof’s simple advice to graduates: be a good person

Sometimes the most important advice in life is also the least complicated.

For Tim Murphy, Professor of Psychology at Brock University and the recipient of this year’s Faculty of Social Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, the smartest thing graduates can do to succeed in life is also the simplest thing: “Be a good person.”

Murphy delivered the first address of Brock’s Spring Convocation Monday morning to Social Sciences students, along with a packed crowd of their friends and families.

“My advice is simple, but I think if you follow it, it will serve you well,” said Murphy, who teaches statistics courses in Psychology. “Bad things can still happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. But I teach statistics, and I believe in probability. I think if you’re a good person, you’re more likely to have good things happen to you. So try to do things that will keep the odds in your favour.”

Murphy said it’s the little things that count, like holding doors open for people and donating to charity.

An active mentor to young academics, Murphy has worked with four teaching apprentices and has also had six teaching assistants who have gone on to work as instructors at the university level after graduating from Brock. He is extremely proud of these people, who he considers part of his “stats family.”

During his address Monday, Murphy improvised by allowing the graduands sitting in front of him to tell him what advice they wanted to hear.

After someone yelled “grad school,” the professor said anyone applying for grad school — or a job — need to be prepared to sell themselves to the interviewer.

“Tell the story you want them to hear. In your cover letter or application, point out your strengths. And don’t be afraid to mention your weaknesses,” he said.

Karen Campbell, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department Psychology, delivered the afternoon address during the second Faculty of Social Sciences Convocation ceremony, where she encouraged the graduates to be brave and take risks.

“You will overcome failures and try and try again to pursue what interests you the most,” she said. “Be brave. Learn from your mistakes and be patient with yourself while you find the path that’s right for you.”

Convocation continues each day this week in Ian Beddis Gymnasium. A full schedule and some of the interesting highlights can be found here.

Archived videos of Monday’s Convocation Ceremonies can be found below:

Monday, June 5, 10 a.m. — Faculty of Social Sciences

Monday, June 5, 2:30 p.m. — Faculty of Social Sciences


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