On Saturday May 7th, 2016 many young Clayton State Students reached a major milestone in their lives that some can only dream of. After much hard work and dedication, these hardworking students were honored with their College Degrees. It’s been years in the making, and today these graduates get to celebrate all dressed in black robes and decorative graduation caps that read phrases like, " By the Grace of God I Passed this class", "Masterpiece", and "Dreamer". With hundreds of Family members cheering their loves ones on at the stands of the University Athletics Center, one would believe that they were attending a NBA playoff game rather than a College Graduation because the amount of joy and excitement that overflowed the room.
There was a grand aura of relief and anticipation for the future all throughout the ceremony. The graduates received piercing words of encouragement from former State Senator, Lieutenant Casey Cagle. Lieutenant Cagle advised our graduates to "Act Justly, Love Merciful, and Walk Humbly". Meaning to live in a way that makes a difference in other people’s lives while remaining humble. He also stated, “It is not about the kind of job you land. Instead ask yourself, did I lift those around me." His message to our graduates was a personal one, giving insight to his childhood while being raised in a single parent home. Lt. Cagle also expressed, "Regardless of where life takes you keep your head held high. Take pride in every task, every job, and every challenge. Some of life's greatest joys come from moments unanticipated."
Robert L. Ashe III, chairman of the Board at MARTA also left our graduates with sound advice. Ashe explained the significance of remaining active in our nation’s government and politics to bring about social change. He believes that college graduates are the future of our nation and it is important for our young voices to be heard. Robert L. Ashe also reminds us to always remember where we came from by giving back to our communities. He stated “None of us got here by ourselves. Part of who we are is where we came from and who we came from.”
Our Graduates took those wise words from Lieutenant Casey Cagle and Robert L. Ashe in stride and expressed their enthusiasm for their future. Tamia Blankin, a Healthcare Management Major state, “Graduating feels surreal, and I'm excited to pursue my dream of working in a hospital." Adrienne Patton says she's been "Dreaming of this moment" she continued that she loved her time here. The faculty was always willing to help her when she needed. And student athlete Richard Bell states, “I feel on top of the world! It's been a lot of hard work but it's all paid off."
This emotional day was filled with tears, laughter, and ear-to-ear smiles. Clayton State graduates were given the chance to bask in the moment and reflect on all they have achieved. As they go on to their various paths it is important that they remember Lieutenant Casey Cagle’s words of wisdom. “Recognize that you can always improve. Success lies not from what you have built in the past, but on what you can build in the future. We are hands that were put here to do work, not to take credit. Any success you achieve would not be possible without those that walked before you.”
View the ceremony and caps photo gallery!