During her two keynote commencement addresses to the Mississippi University for Women’s (Columbus, Miss.) Class of 2009, business leader and education advocate Mary Peavey encouraged the graduates to recognize their unique gifts and talents, develop them relentlessly and give back to the world.
Peavey also shared her experiences in business and life and the inspiring story of Peavey Electronics—one of the world’s largest manufacturers of musical instruments and professional sound equipment, founded by her husband, Hartley Peavey, and still based in Meridian, Miss., under the original ownership.
“Don’t be fearful of failure,” said Peavey, president of Peavey Electronics Corporation. “Both Hartley and I have faced difficulty many times during our lives. You will find that every challenge and every failure makes you a stronger, more complete person.
“We have a motto for how we approach business at Peavey: ‘We never turn it down.’ You may not get the gift you want, but in recognizing that gift and applying to it your total dedication—by ‘never turning it down’—you will succeed and fulfill your purpose in life.
“Always remember to give back to your community however you can,” she added. “‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ You are expected to take your degree and use it to make the world a better place.”
During the ceremony, Peavey accepted the Medal of Excellence from MUW President Dr. Claudia Limbert, and presented her with a one-of-a-kind Peavey Custom Shop guitar designed with the university seal to commemorate the event.
Raised in Starkville as a sixth-generation Mississippian, Peavey oversees the business growth and development of Peavey Electronics Corporation in more than 130 countries. Peavey and its MediaMatrix, Architectural Acoustics, Crest Audio and Trace Elliot brands engineer the audio systems that power thousands of stadiums, theme parks, airports and other venues around the world.
Peavey donates her time to education and afterschool programs, including The Kennedy Center Partners in Education and Carnegie Hall LinkUP in partnership with the Meridian Symphony Orchestra. She also developed a program to bring field-trip experiences to students in Meridian and Lauderdale County. During the 2008-09 school year, Peavey Electronics funded 12 elementary school field trips to cultural and educational experiences across the state, from the Jackson Zoo and Mississippi Museum of Natural Science to the MSU Riley Center for the Performing Arts in Meridian.
Peavey serves on the national board of directors for the Afterschool Alliance and developed the award-winning Peavey Afterschool (Not) Idle program, a singing competition for students enrolled in grades K-12, as a way to engage the community in after school advocacy while encouraging youngsters to develop and pursue their talents.