YADKINVILLE — Surry Community College President Dr. David Shockley’s message to graduates at the school’s commencement held Thursday at Peace Haven Baptist Church was their journey wasn’t over, so they should roll up their sleeves and get down to work.
“Your graduation tonight begins a new journey,” said Shockley. “Whatever path you chose as your next success after tonight, you have gained the knowledge and skills to succeed. Continue to invest in yourself.”
This was the 47th commencement held and this year marks the school’s 50th anniversary with around 159 graduates participating.
Shockley told the graduates the college has a tradition of excellence and noted it holds a national rating by the Aspen Institute as one of the top 150 community colleges in the United States. He told them they are a part of Surry Community winning that honor. He predicted the effort those used in the school to complete courses qualifying them to transfer into four-year schools would be re-affirmed by future academic success.
He also reminded the audience SCC ranks fifth our of 58 community colleges in the state on how well it works with business and industry to give graduates the skills “to be a highly trained workforce.”
“Each of you has left your mark on our institution,” Shockley said. “We cannot wait to see what you’re going to accomplish. We challenge you to make things better in the lives of others. You are being prepared to serve others and you’ve made yourselves enlightened along the way.”
He told them their success would “create a cycle” as their families see their accomplishments with others following the example they have set. Shockley said they were probably sitting in the audience thinking about why they had been taught some things by their instructors.
“The older I have gotten the more I realize the things I thought didn’t matter are the things that really changed my life,” Shockley said. “You have to accept things outside of yourself. You will realize their worth in the future.”
His comments were then directed toward the difference learning would make in student incomes and told them they must have a strong work ethic because it is a tough economy “not for the weak or meek.” Shockley said he is a product of the community college system. He explained when he later graduated from a four-year school he found himself in the middle of bad economic conditions and spend six months as part of a team re-modeling Wendy’s restaurants.
He said unexpectedly, a lab partner he’d worked with in college called and offered him a job in his field of study to give him his big break. Shockley said graduates should be the best they could be in any position because they are paving the way for other graduates.
“Be a life long learner because technology is changing at such a rapid rate,” said Shockley. “Do not stop after tonight. Never, ever stop learning and when you win; win with dignity.” He concluded by drawing from speeches made by the late North Carolina State Coach Jim Valvano, who died from cancer.
Shockley told the grads Valvano felt everyone should laugh, think and encounter something that moved them to tears every day. He told them to cherish every moment and paraphrased Valvano’s philosophy where doing the three things every day would amount to a very special lifetime.
The VOCE choir was the featured performer for the commencement and performed the songs “Esto Les Digo,” “I Need Thee Every Hour,” as well as “My Jesus I Love Thee,” and performed “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” as the postlude.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.