Retired South Carolina State University President George Cooper was the keynote speaker at Albany Technical College’s 2012 Spring Commencement Friday night. He urges the new graduates to follow their bliss, be authentic and to create their own opportunities.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Two weeks ago, Veronica Naylor proudly watched her daughter graduate from high school. Friday night, it was the daughter's turn see her mother graduate during Albany Technical College's 2012 Spring Commencement exercises.
"It feels wonderful," said Naylor, who earned an associate's degree in Early Childhood Education. "My daughter (LaPorsha Schumate) graduated with honors from Albany High two weeks ago, and now I am also graduating with honors.
"I loved my time at Albany Tech. I learned more about children in the past year than I have in my entire life. I had some great teachers."
Naylor was just one of 500 Albany Tech students who picked up associate's degrees, diplomas, certificates or GEDs at the Albany Civic Center.
For most, the walk across the dais was a life-changing moment.
"I'm happy now because everyone else in my family has graduated from high school and I was the only one not to," said Antonio Lee of Tampa, Fla., who earned his GED. "Now I'm part of the group of graduates. I plan on attending Albany State and majoring in pharmacy."
Katharine Lucas of Panama City Beach, Fla., earned an associate's degree in Business Logistics Management and has a job waiting for her on Monday.
"I just got a job in logistics management at the Marine Base and it's because of Albany Tech," said Lucas. "The logistics teachers were very, very good, and it definitely helped me in getting my job at the base."
Christopher Collins of Hinesville earned his GED and is now headed to Atlanta.
"I'm excited because this means I can now get into school at the Art Institute of Atlanta," Collins, who plans to major in music, said.
The evening was marked by the absence of ATC President Anthony Paker, who missed his first graduation in 16 years because he is on medical leave.
Standing in for Parker, acting President Pam Heglar introduced the night's speaker, retired South Carolina State University President George Cooper, who urged graduates to follow three simple rules to find success in life.
"Follow your bliss. Do what you are moved to do, and remember there is more to life than a big paycheck," said Cooper. "Be authentic. Always be certain with who you are and what you do. Finally, create your own opportunities, don't expect everything is going to just fall into your lap. Keep your eye not just on Georgia, but have a global outlook.
"If you follow these three rules, you will be successful and happy."