By Zack Ponce | the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)
ARTESIA — Hard work pays off.
That was the message T. Boone Pickens delivered to around 100 recent Artesia High School graduates as the guest speaker at the annual Chase Foundation scholarship dinner held Wednesday evening at the Artesia Country Club.
Pickens, who has earned billions of dollars from various enterprises in the oil and gas industry, told the new crop of scholars that as they head to college in the fall to remember that the key to success is a good work ethic, combined with a plan.
“A good work ethic is the place to start and if you don’t have a good work ethic, you’re going to struggle,” Pickens told the audience of around 400 people. “You’ve got to have a good work ethic I think to, number one, have a career, and number two, to be happy in your career.”
Pickens first learned about hard work as a kid and his parents continued to push him through college. His first job was as a newspaper delivery boy during the summer and later, during college, his resolve was tested in a different way.
After meandering through his first two years at Oklahoma State University without a set degree or plan, he told the Chase Foundation scholars that his father had a stern conversation with him about graduating in four years. For the first time Pickens was motivated and he stuck to the four-year plan by graduating with a geology degree after taking one 19-credit semester, then summer school, followed by consecutive 18-credit semesters.
“A plan is everything … a fool with a plan can beat a genius without a plan,” Pickens said.
Pickens believes that the current oil and natural gas boom that Eddy County, Southeastern New Mexico and the country is experiencing marks the coming of a new “Golden Era” for the industry and encouraged the Chase Foundation scholars to become a part of the growth.
“The oil and gas industry is where you want to be,” Pickens said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs, but the boom that you’re in right now is going to stay with you, and it’s going to hang around longer than I’ve ever seen because you have the horizontal drilling, multiple fracks in the horizontal hole and there’s so many wells to drill out here in the Permian Basin it’s just incredible … It’s going to be the boom we’ve always dreamed of.”
Many of the Chase Foundation scholars said it was an honor to meet someone such as Pickens and the night won’t go unforgotten.
“He’s hilarious, I really enjoyed his stories,” said Madison Casey, who will enroll at West Texas A&M in the fall and plans to study to become a nurse anesthetist. “He definitely made me feel the same way as him because I have a hard work ethic as well, and I was raised in a family where you do what you do for yourself and you need to grow up fast. I really took what he said to heart and I really appreciate him coming down. It’s amazing.”
Perhaps one day one of the students sitting in the crowd will give a similar speech to future generations of high school graduates.
Reporter Zack Ponce can be reached at (575) 689-7402.