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Albany Tech graduates more than 130

Michael Madden, executive deputy for the Marine Corps Logistics Command, Albany gives the keynote address during Albany Technical College's 2012 Fall Commencement Exercise Friday evening at the Albany Civic Center. Madden urged the graduates to chose their professions wisely and to never stop learning. ATC President Anthony Parker listens in the background. (Dec. 14, 2012)

Michael Madden, executive deputy for the Marine Corps Logistics Command, Albany gives the keynote address during Albany Technical College's 2012 Fall Commencement Exercise Friday evening at the Albany Civic Center. Madden urged the graduates to chose their professions wisely and to never stop learning. ATC President Anthony Parker listens in the background. (Dec. 14, 2012)

ALBANY, Ga. -- More than 130 students received associate's degrees, and more than 650 diplomas and 750 technical certificates of credit also were awarded Friday night as Albany Technical College conducted its annual Fall Commencement Exercises at the Albany Civic Center.

Among those picking up AA degrees were Dawson mayor-elect Chris Wright and Walt Tompkins, the college's first graduate of its Civil Engineering Technology program, which began just over a year ago.

"Yes, it has been an eventful year for me," said Wright, who earned a degree in business administration technology. "I'm about to graduate from college and I was elected mayor of Dawson.

"My first goal when I take office in January will be establishing a relationship with the personnel in City Hall."

Wright, 22, is convinced his experience at Albany Tech will help him learn how to better deal with people.

"Our instructors beat us over the head with two things -- learn to cope with diversity and ethics," he said. "It helps if you can deal with diversity because there are all kinds of different folks out there."

Tompkins, an engineering tech at EMC Engineering Services in Leesburg for the past six years, says earning his degree opened his eyes.

"I always knew what I was doing at work, but school taught me why I was doing it," he said. "The classes helped me understand the overall concept and the entire picture."

The highlight of Tompkins tenure at the college was his Capstone Project, where he mapped the entire 7.8 miles of bicycle trails at Chehaw Park.

He said he will pursue a bachelor's degree at Southern Poly Technical College.

The evening's speaker was Michael Madden, the executive deputy for the Marine Corps Logistics Command, Albany.

Madden urged the graduates to be professionals in everything they do going forward.

"Do not mislead people," Madden said. "Do your best, show up on time and you will always have work. You are not done learning yet by a long shot, and always remember your supervisor is not your baby sitter."

Madden advised the group to choose their professions wisely.

"It's up to you to find what you enjoy doing and pursue it," he said. "You will spend 70,000 hours of your life working. So, it's not a job, it is a profession. Go the extra mile, understand that you are building or destroying your professional reputation each day.

"How you respond to setbacks will be a test of your mettle and your character."