Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told Darton graduates to “never stop learning” now that they’ve earned a degree. Deal was on hand for give the commencement speech at Tuesday’s graduation ceremony. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — Darton State College fall semester graduates got some solid career advice from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Tuesday night.
Deal began his speech by offering his congratulations to the students and his thanks to the faculty and staff for inviting him to speak before giving offering some words of wisdom to the graduates.
“You can have all the education in the world but if you can’t look people in the eye when you talk to them, if you don’t have a firm handshake and if you don’t treat them with respect, you significantly diminish the possibilities that your education has afforded you,” Deal said. “Those are the simple things in life, the things that make a difference, things that cause you, when you are being interviewed, people will remember and that, too, is very important.”
The Cavalier Auditorium was filled to capacity for the graduating class of 381 students earning associate’s degrees in in a variety of disciplines. Deal was introduced by Dr. Paul Jones, Darton’s interim president.
Telling the students that 46 percent of of the state’s population would need a bachelor’s degree by 2018, Deal encouraged them to think hard about their future choice to continue their formal educations or enter the workforce.
“Only 28 percent of Georgians above the age of 25 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher,” Deal said. “Which unfortunately puts us below the national average and we need to achieve that national average. So, I encourage you to continue to pursue your educations.”
Acknowledging that many of the graduates had likely already made decisions about their next step, Deal told them that regardless of what they had decided, the main thing they needed to do was make their decisions count.
“Now, I know that you’ve probably already made some choices about which direction your endeavors are going to take you and those are hard choices,” Deal said. “What I am suggesting to you is make you endeavors count because I know that your parents are expecting you not to move back home.”
“I’ve worked hard to try to create better job opportunities for the citizens of Georgia. And I have said this many many times and I’ll say it again tonight that I believe that a good job is the foundation for advancement for you individually, for your family and for our society. If you have a good job, you can provide for yourself, for your family, for your community and you will not need to ask government to do so many things for you.”
Addressing those students who might be struggling to decide what their next step might be, Deal offered some advice and encouragement to them as well.
“You might say, ‘well, I don’t know what I want to do,’” said Deal. “That’s okay, according to statistics, the baby boomers have had a 11 different jobs on average between the ages 18-46. The point is this, things change; job opportunities evolve and the opportunities that you will be afforded may very well change the direction of your life, even from the things you thought you were studying to be good at. So, put yourself in the position to take advantage of those opportunities that come along.”
The key to that, and to having any success, Deal said, came down to a few important points that he then shared with the crowd.
“I know there are some fundamental things that you’ve already been taught,” continued Deal. “I want to repeat a couple of them to you here tonight. I want to challenge you to do this, keep learning and set goals. Don’t stop learning. We should never stop learning. There are too many things that are going on.
“It’s important that you set goals. And that you set them high. Set them so high that when you achieve them it will surprise everybody, even you. If you set your goals too low, you will never be surprised because you will have only achieved what you could have done without setting any goals in the first place. So, take advantage of that. Your goals are your road maps of your life.”
Goals, added Deal not only put a person in a position to succeed, but they also give people an opportunity to make choices about their lives and futures.
“I would challenge that if you do not set goals and you do not have advancements, you will never come to those crossroads in life,” said Deal. “Crossroads are where you make choices. Unfortunately many people are so stuck in one route that they never come to a crossroad and they never have a choice of which road to take in their future. So, make your possibilities expand and I think that you will be glad that you did.”