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Multi-tasking a breeze for student commencement speaker

by Crysta McGee, communications and marketing last modified May 07, 2014 01:36 PM

Graduating UofL School of Dentistry student Michael Rolf has been chosen to speak at morning commencement Saturday. His letter of recommendation notes he is “a man of many talents, who can definitely multi-task.”

Multi-tasking a breeze for student commencement speaker

Michael Rolf

Here’s the proof. Rolf has served as class president the past four years and participated in the International Service Learning Program in Belize. He served on the Admissions, Curriculum, and Clinic Operations and Patient Care committees and is a member of the Psi Omega Dental Fraternity and the Pi Kappa Alpha Alumni Association.

While doing all that, in 2012 he founded a company to raise awareness and money for muscular dystrophy and epilepsy. The company, Beaux Tied, LLC, is in honor of two of his cousins who lost their lives to the diseases. Beaux Tied designs and sells Louisville-themed ties, belts, bags and other items, and a portion of the proceeds goes to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Epilepsy Foundation.

Rolf, a Fort Thomas native who received a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a minor in biology from UofL in 2010, plans to head back to northern Kentucky after he graduates to join a dental practice.

He paused for a few minutes to talk with UofL Today about his time at the university and his future plans.

Why did you choose UofL?

As a high school senior, I was fortunate to receive a scholarship offer to the University of Louisville, which certainly played a role in deciding to come here for my undergraduate studies.  After coming to Louisville for my visit, it was clear that UofL was invested in providing opportunities to allow students to succeed both inside and outside the classroom, which made my final decision to come to Louisville very easy. As far as my decision to attend UofL for dental school, I applied to several different schools around the country, but could not ignore that our dental school is renowned as one of the best in the nation. I certainly owe a big thank you to Robin Benningfield and Dianne Foster in dental student affairs for believing in me, assisting me with the application process, and making me feel at home at the UofL School of Dentistry. 

You were involved in a lot of activities while at UofL. What made you want to pursue so many different things?

As I mentioned, the University of Louisville is intently focused on assuring that students are granted the ability to achieve their highest aspirations during their collegiate years. Shortly after arriving at UofL, I met Dr. Michael Mardis, dean of students, and Dr. Dale Billingsley, vice provost for undergraduate affairs, both of whom I consider to be exceptional mentors and close friends.  Both of these gentlemen made an exceptional impact on my life, taking the time to get to know me and constantly providing me encouragement to get involved on campus and in the community. 

What's led to your success?

When I was growing up, it was discovered that my cousin, Cameron, had muscular dystrophy, a hereditary disease in which muscles deteriorate over time, leaving a person handicapped and limited to a wheelchair. Although it was tough to endure seeing my cousin slowly lose his motor capabilities, I never saw him express a negative attitude. He had the mindset that no disease could slow him down and had an ultimate goal of being accepted into law school.  He often used to say to me, “Michael, always say ‘yes’ to a challenge and never turn down the opportunity to do something great because life only offers you a limited number of chances.” 

I attribute my drive to succeed and also my motivation to pursue a career in health care to my cousin Cameron. It is people like this in our everyday lives that inspire us to step outside of our comfort zone to accept the challenge to help others that need it, make a difference in the world and inspire others to do the same. 

Whats been your favorite experience at UofL?

Wow, this is tough to determine, as I have had so many unbelievable memories during my years at the University of Louisville that I will certainly cherish throughout my life.  Since I have to pick, though, I would have to say that being in attendance to watch our beloved Cards claim the title as national champions in men’s basketball last year in Atlanta certainly ranks at or near the top. I was extremely fortunate to be able to watch the game from the front row in the Louisville student section.

Whats next for you after graduation?

I have accepted a position to practice dentistry with the Dental Center of Florence in northern Kentucky. I am very excited about this opportunity, as the employees there have been exceptionally welcoming and also helpful in assisting to make the transition from school to the workforce as seamless as possible. I will also be continuing to develop Beaux Tied, a company founded in honor of my cousins, Cameron and Evan, who lost their lives to muscular dystrophy and epilepsy, respectively.  Additionally, I will be planning a wedding with my fiancé, Abbey, who also will be graduating May 10 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at NKU.  We have a lot of work to do before next May when we plan to tie the knot!

What will you tell your peers during your commencement speech?

I can’t give it all away, but I promise to avoid as much as possible any cliché graduation messages to my fellow graduates. I do believe it is important to encourage my peers to embrace the moment of graduation, what it means and to take a moment to reflect on what it took to get each of us to this day.   

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