Jim Keyes ‘77 Inspires Lifelong Learning

Jim Keyes '77 shaking students hand

Holy Cross recently had the honor of hosting notable alumni Jim Keyes ‘77, member of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees, who took the time on April 25, 2024 to engage with students and share insights from his new book, “Education is Freedom.” Keyes’ journey from humble beginnings to becoming a successful business leader as former CEO of 7-Eleven and Blockbuster is not only inspiring but also filled with valuable lessons for young students across the globe. 

Keyes began his talk by delving into his childhood, where he experienced the challenges of living in poverty with a house lacking basic amenities like running water. Despite these hardships, he was determined, always putting his best foot forward in everything he did whether it was sweeping the floors at McDonald’s with incredible speed or outworking white-collar employees at corporate internships.

One of the pivotal moments in Keyes’ early career was his internship at Gulf Oil. Here, he demonstrated his dedication and passion for his work, which quickly made him stand out among his peers. However, his commitment to excellence didn’t go unnoticed, and he encountered resistance from a colleague who felt threatened by Keyes’ hard work, fearing it would reflect poorly on others.

Keyes’ experiences shaped his belief in the power of education and continuous learning. He understands that education is not just about academic knowledge but also about personal growth and empowerment. In his book, “Education is Freedom,” Keyes emphasizes the importance of education in preserving democracy and promoting critical thinking. Keyes highlights the role of education in fostering an informed electorate capable of discerning truth from fiction. He advocates for a return to the values of civil discourse, critical thinking, and lifelong learning.

“Education Is Freedom” serves as a self-help guide for individuals and society as a whole. It allows readers to embrace education as a tool for personal and collective growth. Keyes believes that knowledge is the ultimate freedom, as it provides individuals with the chance to navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and contribute meaningfully to society.

Keyes’ journey from childhood poverty to advocating education for freedom is a testament to the transformative power of learning. With support from Snoop Dogg, Mr. Beast, and many more influential individuals, it is no secret that Holy Cross is beyond grateful to have someone like him share their personal experience. 

Thank you to Nico Corporon ‘26 for this event recap!