Bradley University

BU Chicago News

Orlando Ceaser '73

Ask Orlando Ceaser ’73 how he’s doing, and he’ll say, “Somewhere between great and fantastic.”

His response represents his philosophy on life, “It’s great to be alive, and every day we have a fantastic opportunity to make a difference.”

Ceaser takes that opportunity quite seriously. After working in the pharmaceutical industry for 32 years, Ceaser retired in 2008. Now, he’s a motivational communicator—and busier than ever.

“When I retired, I thought about what I could do with my time that would be of value,” says Ceaser. He was drawn to volunteer for Black Star Project, an organization offering a variety of programs in Chicago high schools and elementary schools. He is one of about 250 involved in the organization’s student motivator program. Ceaser talks to students, sharing his experiences and encouraging them to stay in school and achieve their goals.

Ceaser created a card to distribute to students. “It lists the seven attributes I’ve noticed in people who make a difference. These include setting high standards for yourself, being creative in your expression, and elevating team performance.”

The back of the card lists 10 “Impact Questions for Success.” The list asks students to describe what’s important to them, what their dreams are, how they feel about themselves, who they listen to, and other key factors designed to empower oneself to become successful.

Ceaser brought his message to 18 Chicago schools last year. In addition, he went with his church on a mission trip to Zambia, where he talked with nearly 200 youth. “The similarities with American youth are amazing. They just have a different set of challenges in Zambia with extreme poverty and HIV-AIDS thrown in.

“I tell students they are here for a reason. It’s up to them to find out what the reason is.”

He also speaks at professional organizations and other groups, has been an emcee for the Dare to Dream youth program, and spoke at Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy’s graduation. 

Besides speaking engagements, Ceaser is the author of three books of poetry on leadership and personal and spiritual growth. His comic strip, “Cocky and Rhodette,” spotlights life in the corporate world. He has written a book on improving decision making and has written articles on career development, interviewing, management, leadership and selling. He also has been quoted in several  articles. Read more about his cartoons, books, poems, and CDs at watchwellinc.com.

Looking back at his college experience, Ceaser says, “It was a blast from the beginning; I probably had too much fun. Academically, I didn’t do what I should have done, but still, it was a good experience. The fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, was tremendous, and I made lifelong friends.”

He was at Bradley at a time when student unrest and civil rights issues were common nationwide. “What’s been amazing is some of the staunchest critics when we were in school are some of the staunchest advocates now. Although they complained about this or that, they realized those were the best times of their lives.”

Reflecting on his years at Bradley, he says, “It’s a good thing. Your school becomes a piece of you.”

Ceaser and his wife Verona live in South Barrington. They have two adult children, Brian and Veronica.