Clayton State University President Dr. Thomas Hynes is likely to humorously acknowledge during the University’s Commencement ceremonies that the graduates may have the impression that they are now “yesterday’s news” at Clayton State. This, of course, is far from reality, especially to the Clayton State Alumni Association. As it turned out, it was even further from reality on May 9, when one of the University’s Commencement speakers gave members of the Class of 2015 an additional assignment… after graduation.
Speaking to graduates of the Colleges of Business, Health and Information and Mathematical Sciences at the 9 a.m. ceremony, J. Michael Burnett, CEO of Piedmont Fayette Hospital, caught everyone’s attention with the following challenge/assignment…
“What are your foundational beliefs?” he asked the 275 graduates in his audience. “I challenge you to email them to me… I have a very easy email to remember… because these foundational beliefs will guide you from this day forward.
“I’ve asked President Hynes about this… and, you don’t officially graduate until I get an email,” Burnett concluded, tongue firmly in cheek.
Burnett’s challenge was just the start of a memorable day for the University, its graduates, and its guests. The second ceremony, beginning at noon for the 250 graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, featured both a noted keynote speaker, former WSB-TV anchor Monica Pearson, and the presentation of just the ninth an honorary doctoral degree in the University’s 45 year history. That honor went to Ann Cramer, senior consultant with Coxe Curry & Associates and long-time IBM executive.
Pearson, certainly no stranger to public speaking after a 37-year career with WSB, spoke on defining success, and also asked something of the graduates in her session.
“How do you define success,” she asked. “It comes from a four-letter word. Work. Your study habits become your work habits. Autograph your work with excellence. A career must be a calling, and your calling speaks to your character, speaks to your maturity.”
Pearson also gave the graduates “five questions to ask yourself” before taking action. They were,,,
If everybody did what I’m doing, how would it effect the world?
If I was on the outside looking in, what would I do?
Can I stand to see this on WSB-TV or Facebook?
What would the person I admire most think about what I am about to do?
What will the outcome of my actions really be, and what will be the consequences?
Although not directly connected to Pearson’s address, the presentation of the honorary degree that followed shortly thereafter was most assuredly directly related to the consequences of a lifetime of actions. In presenting Cramer with an honorary doctorate of Public Service for her many contributions and meritorious work throughout the region, Hynes recognized her pioneering work in the area of corporate citizenship and the dedication to her personal interest in children, youth, and education. She has chaired the Workforce Development Task Force for the Governor’s Commission for a New Georgia; the Governor’s Child Protective Services Task Force; the Governor's Commission on Children and Youth and co-chaired the Governor's Welfare Reform Task Force, the Governor's Policy Council for Children and Families and the Grady Foundation, the Governor's Action Council for Safe Kids and led a team developing Voices for Georgia’s Children.
No stranger to Clayton State or Clayton State Commencement ceremonies, Cramer has spoken previously on campus to the Clayton State Women’s Forum in 2009 and was also a keynote speaker at the University’s spring 2011 Commencement.