Alexander tells TTU graduates to 'find the good and praise it'

“Find the good and praise it.”

That’s a quote from Tennessee author Alex Haley and also the theme of the address U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander made to nearly 1,200 Tennessee Tech University graduates and their friends and families at Saturday’s commencement ceremonies.

Held at 10 a.m. on May 3 in TTU’s Hooper Eblen Center, this spring’s commencement was the largest in the university’s history.

“Your generation can change the way we live,” Alexander told graduates.

That’s because in spite of the various economic and environmental challenges facing the nation, he said, “it’s not hard to find the good and praise it.” The United States, for example, makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, but it produces about 30 percent of its wealth.

“This is the only country in the world where people can say with a completely straight face that anything is possible because they actually believe that it is,” he said.

One possibility that Alexander spoke of is the continued innovation and availability of hybrid electric vehicles in order to help reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

The opportunity for such innovation is there, he said, because it is estimated that more than 65 percent of Americans drive less than 35 miles per day.

He projected that many students who are now earning their degrees will in five to 10 years be driving cars that can be plugged into an electrical outlet for an inexpensive “fill-up” of energy.

With nearly a third of all Tennessee jobs already being automotive-related andbecause of TTU’s reputation for producing quality engineers, “you can be at the center of this transformation,” Alexander told graduates.

It wouldn’t be the first time for Tennessee to be at the forefront of such a period of innovation, he said, referencing the involvement of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the Manhattan Project, the nation’s World War II-era drive to create the atomic bomb.

“It’s time for a new Manhattan Project, but this time, we need to win the war on clean energy independence,” Alexander said.

“Because of your education, you now have the opportunity to help bring about that change,” he told graduates in conclusion.

Alexander is the only Tennessean ever popularly elected both governor and U.S. senator, and as chairman of the Republican Conference, he is the third-ranking Senate Republican leader.

Following Saturday’s commencement ceremony, TTU has granted more than 62,000 degrees, with nearly 35,000 of them since 1986.

Students who graduated from TTU this spring hail from 41 states including Tennessee, 76 Tennessee counties and 65 foreign counties. They represented 41 undergraduate fields of study and 19 graduate fields.


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