Veritas Lecture Series
Mr. John Kirwin III ’74 and Mr. Blake Lisgar ’19 | Lessons on Leadership and Perseverance
As part of St. Augustine Prep’s commitment to Innovation and Experiential Learning, the Veritas Speaker Series, in the spirit of our patron, brings men and women of various backgrounds, experiences, and passions to “speak truth” to the Brotherhood.
Through presentations and conversations covering a wide variety of formats and topics, several speakers have already made the trip to Richland. Each guest speaker has shared their expertise with the community and has enlightened students as to how they can take their message and integrate it into their own lives. Two recent speakers, John Paul Kirwin III ’74 and Blake Lisgar ’19 represent past and present eras of the Prep but prove how the fabric of the Brotherhood has remained steadfast from the early years of the school through present day.
John Kirwin arrived at his alma mater to present to aspiring finance and business leaders amongst the Hermit Brotherhood. He shared details of his journey founding Argosy Capital, an investment advisory group that currently manages over $2 billion in private capital. The key theme of his message revolved around perseverance, experience, and striving to be an individual of high character.
In a world where patience has waned and too many seek the fast track to success, Kirwin implored students to respect and thrive in the process of accruing experience and working their way up the proverbial ladder. He emphasized learning how to win in life but explained how experiencing failure and disappointment are actually more important as they beget resilience. By referencing Mr. Anthony Spina, Prep co-founder and Kirwin’s former teacher, he shared one of his most valuable lessons of the day, “Having a social life is important but self-discipline is the key to organizing your life. Dedication, organization, resilience, and good study habits will lead to the skills and experience you will need to succeed regardless of where your path takes you.”
A week later, Kirwin was followed by University of Delaware senior, Blake Lisgar ’19. Blake’s presentation was titled, “What comes after Brotherhood?”, a topic he was well-qualified to speak on as his post-Richland life has led to a decorated academic and ROTC career during his time in college. The 2022 Distinguished Military Graduate Award Winner exudes many, if not all of the characteristics of success presented by his elder Hermit Brother just a week prior. Speaking to the classes of 2023 and 2024, he shared the perspective of a young alumnus who is just beginning his journey into the real world. Just as John Kirwin expressed, Blake found success leaning on the discipline, good habits, and values instilled during his time at the Prep. His message revolved around goal-setting and not hesitating to seek advice or being afraid of taking that all-important “first step.” Invoking wisdom given to him by his mother, the 2019 graduate shared “The ones who ask the most questions are the ones who end up with the best answers.”
The aspiring attorney and U.S. Army aviator provided a unique perspective on a question that this year’s upperclassmen may already be asking themselves – what truly comes after the Prep?
Blake’s story of diligence in the collegiate classroom and attention to detail through his time in the ROTC has shown that the true strength of the Brotherhood begins when a student leaves Richland’s Proud and Peaceful Glen. When asked what his biggest regret was at the Prep he explained, “It was hesitating to take that “first step” and not fully seizing the moment sooner. I didn’t realize the true strength and compassion of the alumni network soon enough.” It is evident, even in the early stages of Blake’s time after graduating from the Prep, that he has turned his biggest regret into his biggest asset as he tackles life after Richland. He has already begun to seize the opportunities presented to him by taking that first step at the University of Delaware on a full four-year scholarship awarded to him by the U.S. Army.
To Blake’s point regarding the alumni network, both he and John Kirwin concluded their presentations with an open invitation for Hermit Brothers to reach out to them at any time. Much like St. Augustine, our patron saint, Blake Lisgar and John Kirwin both recognized that truth (Veritas) is “not something you possess, but something that possesses you.” Living the Augustinian mission of the school has served both men well, one is enjoying the fruits of his hard work throughout a successful career and the other has just embarked on the same journey. For our students, the experience of meeting both individuals has left a lasting impression. Most importantly, it has continued the history of the Alumni Brotherhood paying it forward and guiding those Hermits who have followed in their footsteps.
The Veritas Speaker Series continues on Monday, November 7 as the school will welcome Derek Bembry ’75 through a virtual presentation. The 1975 graduate grew up in a small home on Cedar Ave across from the school that would catapult him to a career spanning 40 years in high tech as an executive with five of the largest companies in the world: Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Amazon and currently Johnson Controls.
We invite Alumni and Friends of the Prep to share their expertise, experiences, and/or passions with the Hermit Brotherhood as a Veritas Speaker. Visit bit.ly/veritasspeakerseries to share your interest by completing a short questionnaire.