Trustee Mark Ciardi delivers May commencement address

On Sunday, May 21, trustee Mark Ciardi ’83, Founder and CEO of Apex Entertainment, delivered the University of Maryland’s commencement address at the Xfinity Center. Thousands of graduates, family and friends were in attendance to celebrate the class of 2017.

A member of the baseball team during his time as a student at the university, Ciardi was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and played in the major leagues until 1987.  Thereafter, he pursued a career in film production, first co-founding Mayhem Pictures and later Apex Entertainment. He has produced a host of blockbuster movies such as Million Dollar Arm, Secretariat, Invincible, The Rookie, The Game Plan, McFarland, USA, and Miracle, as well as his Emmy award winning ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “Big Shot.”

Ahead of the ceremony, UMD’s senior vice president and provost, Mary Ann Rankin, described Ciardi as “an outstanding example of an alum who pursued success with focus and tenacity. He knows how to tell an inspirational story, and his remarks will surely prepare and motivate our University of Maryland graduates to pursue their dreams.”

In his address, Ciardi spoke of what it meant to attend the University of Maryland, one of four siblings who became Terps.  He recalled his days as a “Ritchie Rat,” living as a student athlete in Ritchie Coliseum, and spoke of the value of considering himself an underdog when he overcame an ankle injury that interrupted his college baseball career.  

Ciardi encouraged graduates to think of how far they have come and the friends they have made since beginning their time on campus. He reminded them that the University of Maryland will always be their home and charged them to stay engaged and support the university when they find their own success.

“Try to always think of yourselves as an underdog, since this will always serve you well,” Ciardi said. “Be fearless in your own pursuits, but remember to be kind to people along the way. Life won’t be easy but how you handle adversity will define you. Please go out and find something that you love to do; and believe that you can change the world. Think of your life as a movie – and make it worth watching."