Honors Alumna Inspires Honors Class of 2020 with Speech about Failure


By Abigail Megginson

Former Honors student and current employment attorney, Holly Griffin, spoke to the 2020 class of Honors students August 19, Friday night, at Induction. Her main theme was failure.

However, Griffin is anything but a failure. She graduated from the Kugelman Honors Program in 2008, majoring in pre-law, political science and international relations with a history minor. Afterward, she attended law school at Florida State University. Now, she works at a law firm in West Palm Beach handling employment cases where she represents and provides consultations for businesses, a job she loves.

Holly Griffin speaks to Honors freshman and their families in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

Her speech to Honors students Friday evening featured anecdotes about her failures and how they shaped her character and prepared her for her career. Many of them were stories from her time at the University of West Florida.

Griffin chose UWF because she wanted to be actively engaged on campus.

“I had the option of being a big fish in a small pond, UWF, or a small fish in a big pond, FSU, and ultimately I chose UWF for that reason along with the small class sizes and me being a Pace Scholar,” Griffin said.

As for the Honors program, she said her high school IB courses inspired her to continue academic excellence in college. She cited the Honors seminars as one of her favorite benefits of the program. Two of them made her favorites list: Politics in the Hebrew Bible and Spy Novels.

Today, Griffin says the Honors program sharpened her critical thinking skills, which are essential for her current work as an attorney.

“The Honors program also taught me to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself, and that we should always be looking for opportunities to grow and challenge ourselves.”

When she wasn’t studying, Griffin made use of her time in Honors Council, the student ambassador program, Relay for Life, and the Student Government Association.

Griffin exemplified the typical Honors student. She was incredibly involved, academically minded and Type A. When she found out she had lost the SGA presidential race, she felt like she had failed. It was DL who reminded her that failure is only an opportunity to look for more opportunity to grow and learn.

“Everyone needs to find out what failure means, especially in college,” Griffin noted.


Holly Griffin, Greg Tomso and Robin Jones at Honors Induction.

Failure of a different kind faced Griffin at law school. At the end of her first semester of law school, she considered quitting. Not knowing if it was the right choice for her, she consulted mentors from her time in Honors who suggested she give it one more semester. Griffin stuck with law school and graduated in 2011 with no regrets.

The advice she gives to current Honors students can be used both in college and for a professional job post-graduation.

“Take the chances and try something, even if you don’t know if you’ll do well. Don’t let uncertainty keep you from success.”

Griffin also reminds students to keep in touch with your mentors, even after college. After all, it was a Christmas card she sent to DL that was the catalyst for her speaking engagement to the class of 2020 for Honors Induction.



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