BY JAMES HARPER
A college graduate’s first job after receiving his diploma was at a supermarket. On his first day on the job, the store manager gave him a broom to sweep the store.
“I’m a college graduate,” the student said to the store manager. To which the manager replied, “Oh, I forgot. Let me show you how to use it.”
This story, shared by honorary degree recipient Joyce Ann Hanks-Moorehead, was one of the many pearls of wisdom shared with 417 Bethune-Cookman University graduates on May 11 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach before they received their diplomas.
The center was packed as newly appointed B-CU President Dr. Edison Jackson presided over his first spring commencement.
Lots of hooting, hollering
Jackson, who was selected as B-CU’s permanent president in March, reminded the crowd that this was his second graduation service since being appointed interim president. He served as interim president after Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed retired in May 2012.
One of Jackson’s first major decisions was to bring back fall graduation services to the school. In December, 117 graduates received their diploma in that ceremony.
“Celebrate blessings God has bestowed upon us today,” Jackson told a rambunctious audience. On two occasions during the service, he had to remind them to contain themselves as they hooted and hollered for their loved ones – sometimes inappropriately while invited guests were speaking.
“Remember the song by the Staple Singers, ‘Respect Yourself.’ A hint to the wise should be sufficient,” he said to muffled laughter from some but setting the tone that he was serious.
“We have high standards and expectations. We’ve come to celebrate, but don’t mar this,” he remarked.
The crowd settled down.
Quince: Save money
Then the moment many had been waiting – the commencement address by Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince – began.
“Mary McLeod Bethune would be proud of you today,” said Quince, the first Black female to serve on the high court.
Her advice to the Class of 2013 was to start saving money. She said the Black community was hardest hit by the recent recession.
“We had no securities, no wealth to fall back on. Start thinking now about the next generation. We have to think about the future.”
She informed the graduates that they were entering into a new phase in their adult life.
“In college, (you) fell into habits not conducive to the workforce,” she said, reminding them that they did learn proper English in their classrooms and they should be prepared to use it.
Quince said she was worried about some in this crop of grads because many are dependent on new technology – cell phones, computers, etc.
“Don’t take shortcuts to get to the next promotion. … Don’t take shortcuts in your work life – look like you are about business… your hair, dress,” Quince advised.
She also reminded them to be civic-minded and remember to use their right to vote.
“Go to the polls in 2014, 2016, not just 2012,” she urged.
More words of wisdom
Quince also had advice for grads that were going on to law school, medical school or other higher degrees.
She recalled when she left college to go on to law school.
“I thought I was pretty smart. You will be competing in a different realm. Be more disciplined to compete,” she advised.
She also urged the students to “make time for yourself, take care of your health, and operate with integrity. You will have time for small things.”
Quince concluded by telling the students about what she called the creed of professionalism.
“Decide your word will be your bond. Make sure your word is your bond.
You will be successful,” she stated.
The honorary degree recipients also had advice for the students.
Joyce Ann Hanks-Moorehead earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology from Bethune-Cookman College in 1967. She pursued a master’s degree at Boston University in 1967, then went on to earn her juris doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas in 1976.
“Values instilled in me were reinforced at this university. You are ambassadors of our alma mater. Know the value of your degree. Look forward to building on the foundation of our founder,” she said.
Hanks-Moorehead, who shared the story about the graduate who got his first job at the supermarket, received an honorary degree on May 11 for the Doctor of Laws.
‘Never, never give up’
Charles Reed, the former chancellor of the California State University system, quoted England’s former Prime Minister Winston Churchill after he received his honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from President Jackson.
“Never, never give up (on) your dreams,” he said.
Reed also reminded the students they had help on their journey to getting their degrees.
“You did not get here by yourself. You got a lot of help along the way. Thank your parents, faculty,” he stated.
One last bit of advice he gave the students was “Don’t pierce or tattoo something you can’t hide on a job interview.”
That statement prompted peals of laughter from the graduates and their families.