Focus On How to Be Strong

Dave Dauphinais T’18, a former Navy Seal, reminded his fellow classmates about the importance of strength during this year’s Investiture ceremony.

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Dave Dauphinais T'18
Dauphinais spent a decade in the Navy working in Special Operations after graduating from Boston College.

Trained as a Navy Seal, Dave Dauphinais had one of the most physically demanding and mentally challenging positions in the U.S. Armed Forces

He was deployed overseas five times and traveled all over the world to war-torn countries. But as he explained to the Tuck graduating class of 2018, despite all this experience, he still found himself humbled when he arrived at Tuck to begin his education.

“When I started here at Tuck, I found the transition hard,” said Dauphinais, who was nominated by his fellow Tuckies to serve as class speaker on graduation day. “I had left behind an identity of 10 years in the Navy, and adjusting to this new world was very, very difficult and, at times, debilitating. I felt fog bound and adrift for the first time in my life.”

In his remarks, Dauphinais recalled an experience he had in 2008 that got him through this tough period. Although he was just 25, he was leading a small Seal team on a humanitarian mission in the Philippines. One day, while traveling on a narrow, winding road, Dauphinais noticed a hand-painted sign.

“The rust and bullet holes made it nearly illegible, but I made out the words,” he recalled. “It said, ‘Pray not for an easy life but that you may be strong.’”

“I love this message,” Dauphinais said. “It helped me years later in Afghanistan, various locations in the Horn of Africa, and Yemen but it was never as helpful as when I left the military and entered grad school.”

Dauphinais found solace in Tuck’s close-knit community. Inspired by his classmates’ brave efforts, Dauphinais sailed through this difficult time by tapping into his own inner strength. On graduation day, he encouraged his fellow Tuckies to do the same as they set off to take on the world.

“As we leave Tuck, we should ask that what not lies ahead is easy,” he said, “but that we are strong to take the hard projects under the most demanding manager, to defend our position in the board room alone if necessary when we know it’s right, and to give up practices that have worked in the past in the face of change.” 

Prior to Tuck, Dauphinais spent a decade in the Navy working in Special Operations after graduating from Boston College. He is receiving a joint Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Public Administration program between Tuck and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, with a specific interest in the public and private intersection of energy.