ESU Alumnus, Educator, Philanthropist, Actor Author and Inspirational Speaker, Billy Staples, to Speak at Spring Undergraduate Commencement Exercises
Billy Staples ’93 M ’10, alumnus, actor, educator, philanthropist, author and inspirational speaker, will be the keynote speaker at both of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies, Saturday, May 18 in Koehler Fieldhouse. There will be two commencement ceremonies with the first at 9:00 a.m. for graduates in the Colleges of Business and Management and Health Sciences and the second at 1:00 p.m. for students graduating from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education.
Staples earned his associates degree in communications from Northampton Community College, and both his bachelor’s degree in education and his master’s degree in education administration from ESU. Co-author of two inspirational books, Before the Glory (in conjunction with Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, and co-authored with Rich Herschlag) and The Secret (which has sold more than 20 million copies), Mr. Staples has spent the past six years touring the U.S. and sharing his inspirational message of working together for positive life changes with schools, colleges and Fortune 500 companies. He has also presented internationally in nine countries and has been the opening speaker for events with Deepak Chopra.
Early on in his career, after earning his associates degree, Mr. Staples was an aspiring actor in movies including Hairspray, Coming to America and Gremlins 2. He left this career to earn his teaching degree and spent more than seven years teaching seventh grade English at Northeast Middle School in Bethlehem. He also spent his time after school in the Pembroke public housing, helping families by tutoring, counseling and instilling the hope that these students could one day attend college. The dramatic response from his students earned him two nominations as the National Disney Teacher of the Year.
He continued his passionate crusade for students by developing a college scholarship group called B.E.S.T. (Building Education Support Teams) that still exists today. To date, B.E.S.T. has assisted more than 20 former at-risk students in earning their bachelor’s degrees and is now assisting 50 additional students as they make their way through college. Staples and two of these students were featured in a CNN profile on education.
Staples lives in Nazareth, Pa.