Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Addressing his fellow graduates at East Central Community College’s 84th Commencement last Saturday at the Neshoba County Coliseum in Philadelphia, Andrew Hanna of Union said although he saw a variety of people among his classmates, the obvious bond they shared is that they are all students.
“That means we all go to class and education is the primary aim of the classroom. We may study various subjects, but every class should teach us something about life,” Hanna said.
Hanna began his remarks by thanking those who had influenced his education.
“Dr. Stewart, Dr. Houston, and all of the administration, thank you for creating an environment where both faculty and students can thrive. Instructors are the lifeblood of any institution,” he said. “A school is only as good as its teachers make it. Teachers, we thank you for making East Central a great institution.
“I had the privilege of working on campus two summers at East Central. The first summer was spent working with maintenance. I ran a weed-eater, painted, and shoveled more mulch than I care to remember. These people keep our college running and deserve recognition and gratitude.
"The second summer, I worked in admissions. I filed so many papers that I learned how to say the alphabet backwards. The behind the scenes work of the professional staff at East Central lays the foundation for all the other employees to build on. Thank you for all of the long hours you give to our school.
“I would also like to thank our cafeteria workers. They see us at our best and our worst, yet continue to serve day in and day out. Lastly, friends and family, you are the true reason the graduating class of 2013 is here today. You picked us up when we fell, listened to us whine, and told us to keep going when we thought we could go no more. Thank you.”
Hanna, an ECCC Hall of Fame member, continued by sharing some of the life lessons he has learned during the last semester.
“Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 a.m., I dragged myself to physics….As I began to study the basic laws of physics, I noticed that I had many misconceptions. Some things do not work like you would expect them to….I had to rework my thinking and rid myself of common misconceptions. Life is the same way. We often assume people are a certain way without actually taking the time to observe and understand. College has helped me understand people in a new way.”
He said chemistry taught him about the importance of the “little things.” Hanna then spoke of his computer technology class and gave an example of how his textbook printed for the 2012-13 term was already out of date and how we must embrace constant change.
Hanna then shared how his class in New Testament Survey assured him that in an ever-changing world there are truths that always remain.
His final illustration, learned in chemistry and physics laboratory classes, dealt with the unexpected things of life.
“You would think that all the classroom discussion and study would translate into a perfect lab experience, but interesting things always happen when the real world comes into play. You can understand every concept, follow every step to the letter, and double-check every calculation. Something will still go wrong.”
He concluded his remarks with the following challenge to his fellow graduates: “…The people at East Central invested in your life and taught you something. Do that for another person. Share what you have learned because the world needs people who point out common misconceptions. The world also needs people who care about the little things that really matter. Remember that things change, but some things will never change. Hold on to those things that never change. Always be willing to learn, because you do not know everything. Finally, acknowledge that life is incredibly messy. Roll with the punches and learn from your mistakes.”
In addition to Hanna, other graduating sophomores participating in the commencement program were Cain Prestage of Carthage, invocation; and Claire Griffin of Decatur, benediction. Griffin, Sandy Alexander of Little Rock, Robin Coker of Newton and Alex Weir of Philadelphia performed the musical selection “When You Believe.”
College President Dr. Billy W. Stewart will awarded degrees and certificates to more than 400 graduates. Dr. Teresa Houston, vice president for Instruction, presented candidates.