The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 26, 2013

Officials offer up wisdom to grads

Caleb Odom

— It’s after “Pomp and Circumstance,” after the pats on the back and the parents beaming with pride.

That’s when reality kicks in for a high school graduate.

Now what?

“Transitioning out of high school brings about a time when you are transitioning into responsibility for your life,” said Dr. Bob Glenn, president of Athens State University.

High school graduates are faced with numerous decisions that can dictate their life later on both positive and negative levels.

“Lots of young people are choosing to go into the military service, others are choosing to go to college,” said Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks. “Here is the bottom line, we are all, every one of us, is on the career path and life path and they just need to try to figure out which is the right direction they want to go.”

When making those decisions, graduates should try to pursue a career they enjoy.

“Try to find a job that will match your skills,” said Tim Bauer, TR Electric’s business manager. “Too many times people will try to do things outside their skill level and it just doesn’t work out.”

Bauer’s advice for high school graduates is based on reality.

“Everybody is not college material and everybody is not set out to be a skilled trades person,” Bauer said. “You have got to do the things that you are better suited for and that you like to do.”

One thing graduates should keep in mind is a thread that weaves through most, if not all, career paths.

“I don’t care what kind of business you go into,” Dr. Glenn said. “It all boils down to remembering that you are in the people business.”

The “people business” meaning that success is partly measured by one’s ability or inability to interact with society to accomplish tasks.

“Everything is about relationships, everything is about people,” Glenn said.

He also stressed the value of reading.

“Being well read is a cornerstone to being successful. The flow of information in our society is relentless, it is a little bit like trying to drink from a fire hose.”

Making the choice to be a constant learner is something Glenn believes is a must.

“Your entire life is going to be a learning experience,” he said.

Gov. Robert Bentley, who recently delivered the commencement address at Troy University, has been offering advice to graduates of every level this spring. His advice to students has been focused on leadership, and how they must first be a follower of good principles. He uses the term “servant leader” to describe those who provide leadership by serving the people around them.

“Upon graduating, you are being given a unique opportunity. You are embarking on a new journey,” he said. “Already, you have made great achievements. The choices you make as you go forward will shape the life you lead and the legacy you leave behind.”

“This is your opportunity. This is your chance to excel. This is your time to take what you’ve learned and accomplish your goals while serving your community. Be true to your principles. Be true to your character. Be true to your word.”