Commencement at Clayton State University is always an inspiring event for the graduates, their families and the University’s faculty and staff.
The 2012 Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 5, was, perhaps, a little more inspiring than the average, thanks to the commencement speaker, former Atlanta mayor, Ambassador Andrew Young.
Ambassador, civil rights leader, humanitarian, mayor, congressman, cabinet member, educator and an American icon, literally man who needed no introduction (although a fine one was given by Clayton State President Dr. Thomas J. Hynes), Young returned to Clayton State campus for the first time in eight years. Although very few of Saturday’s graduates were present in 2004 when Young was the keynote speaker at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Event, everyone in the audience unquestionably knew of his humanitarian efforts and influence that have spanned the globe.
In speaking to a total of approximately 500 graduates and a full house of roughly 1500 at both the 9 a.m., and noon ceremonies, Young made sure no one went home uninspired, tailoring his remarks to the first ceremony (and the graduates from the College of Business, College of Health, and College of Information and Mathematical Sciences) towards opportunities and moving forward, and, in his second address (to the graduates from the College of Arts & Sciences), speaking on the theme of kindness to one another.
Although acknowledging the problems the world faces in 2012, Young stressed that there is a global opportunity awaiting this year’s graduates.
“You are going to make this world a better place… there is no going back,” he said. “The world is moving forward. We can only keep up with it.”
Young also recalled King’s words in reference to the future, and the graduates’ ties to Clayton State.
“You will be dependent on those who come behind you,” he promised. “As Martin said, `we are all inextricably bound together.’”