Winningham, who has served in Tennessee's House of Representatives since 1984, told graduates that the people who provided them with independence, individualism and perseverance were not the Miss Americas or Academy Award winners of the world, but the people in their everyday lives.
"Think about the people sitting in the audience cheering your victory today," he said. "They are the ones who provided the best advice and served as your role models."
Encouraging graduates to be both wise and shrewd, Winningham, who received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Tennessee Tech, gave them a definition of both.
"It has been said, 'A wise man knows everything, a shrewd one knows everybody,'" he explained.
Winningham said he hoped graduates would leave Tennessee Tech with a sense of pride, a willingness to support the university financially and a desire to give other Tennessee Tech graduates priority when they need assistance.
He closed with advice borrowed from a Dr. Suess book about a man eating popovers who was advised to swallow the solid part but spit out the air.
"As you partake of the world's bill of fare, do a lot of spitting out the hot air and be careful what you swallow," he said.
Before Winningham's speech, President Bob Bell recognized Michelle and Carol Clark, a mother and daughter, who graduated together yesterday. President Bell also acknowledged Andy Case, Derryberry Award winner, who graduated with his mother, Karen Case. And, in honor of Mother's Day, all mothers were asked to stand and receive a rousing round of applause.
Prior to commencement, the university ROTC Battalion held its spring commissioning ceremony. During commencement, 140 students received graduate degrees and 47 received specialist in education degrees while two students earned their Doctor of Philosophy degrees.Students graduating from Tennessee Tech this term represented 22 other states, 75 Tennessee counties and 16 foreign countries. Degrees were awarded in 41 undergraduate fields of study and 16 graduate fields.