LaGrange College commencement focuses on service to others
May 16, 2015
Under a bright blue sky, LaGrange College awarded diplomas to 243 graduates during its 184th commencement ceremonies Saturday morning.
President Dan McAlexander remarked on the picture-perfect weather and compared it to conditions 24 hours earlier.
"We were holding rehearsal right here under a drizzling rain," he said. "I urged the students to pray hard for good weather this morning. If there was any doubt about the efficacy of the Class of 2015, doubt no more. What a glorious morning!"
McAlexander noted that the morning's celebration would have a single concept.
"Because the idea of service is at the core of this college and because so many of you have served so often and so well during your time here, you will notice the theme of service running throughout today's program. Your lives will find their deepest meaning if you devote yourselves to serving others."
Patrick Reynolds, this year's winner of the Waights G. Henry Jr. Leadership Award, encouraged his classmates to find ways to give back and to offer opportunities to others.
Dr. George W. Baker Jr. of LaGrange, a 1974 graduate of the college, was presented the Distinguished Service Alumni Award.
"I am an example of what this college is capable of doing," he said. "It allowed me to reach my dreams."
Honorary degrees were awarded to former Troup County Commission Chair Ricky Wolfe and retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess.
In his remarks to the graduates, Wolfe urged them to find a way to communicate with others, regardless of race or culture.
"The way we relate to each other has developed a chasm between us that is being created both by black and white, and it is now destroying us all," he said. "Our current language is based on fear and based on rage and based on violence. We need a new language that is centered around equality for all, having a spirit of generosity for all that is centered around making decisions that are good for us all and not just for a select few."
There is hope, however, if this generation can craft a new language that can be used every day, he said, no matter where they go in the world.
"This will create for you unlimited potential and it will return to this great country of ours the destiny it so richly deserves."
Burgess, who retired after 38 years of service in military intelligence, commented on the promises inherent in commencements.
"There are few moments more exciting that a college graduation and perhaps none that more clearly symbolize the strength of our great nation, the confidence in our future and the wealth of our society."
However, he warned that the world holds challenges unfamiliar to past generations.
"Today there is a very complex security environment marked by a broad spectrum of dissimilar threats, including rising regional powers and highly adaptive and resilient transnational terrorist networks," he said. "You are entering an era of global interdependence that is full of promise and opportunity, but it demands you have the ability to change and adapt. Will Rogers said 'Even if you are on the right track, you will be run over if you just sit there.'"
He encouraged the graduates to always remember the hope and optimism they feel today.
"Never let it go," he said. "The more you draw from the excitement of this moment, the more energy you will have to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, and the greater the contributions you will make to your country and to your world."