TTU'S summer graduates encouraged to emulate eagles and soar to their future

The majestic golden eagle provided an object lesson for the 390 graduates of Tennessee Tech University's summer commencement on Saturday at Eblen Center as speaker Robert Gardenhire told them to be like the eagles -- to be vigilant, to nurture, and to soar.

Gardenhire, manager of distribution operations for the Nashville-based Bridgestone/Firestone and an alumnus of TTU's College of Business Administration, charged graduates to carry the tradition of the university's mascot, the golden eagle, whether they graduated "summa cum laude, magna cum laude or Ôthank you laude.'"

"Eagles are known for their 'eagle eyes,'" he said. "The charge to you is to be vigilant. See the opportunities to contribute your expertise. Focus on the ways in which you can lead, scrutinize the injustices and inequities, the poverty and the indifference."

Explaining that eagles as parents tear food and present small nourishing morsels to their hatchlings, Gardenhire encouraged students to nurture others along the way.

"Strive to tear the stuff of life into small pieces for others," he said. "Nurture a disgruntled teen, perhaps a disabled senior citizen, or maybe a disenfranchised person who might be left behind by other's disdain for his social status, his dialect, or his ethnicity."

Gardenhire concluded by imploring graduates to soar like the golden eagles, who have 7-foot wingspans and fly to towering heights.

"Today you take your wings," he said. "Let the memories of your small trials here, like gusts of wind, strengthen you and lift you above the obstacles to come.

"As Solomon said, 'There is a time for everything under the sun,'" Gardenhire said. "It is now your time to soar."

Prior to commencement, the university ROTC Battalion held its summer commissioning ceremony. Derek M. Bergman and James David Cooper earned commissions as second lieutenants.

Students graduating from Tennessee Tech this term represented 11 other states, 55 Tennessee counties and five foreign countries. Degrees were awarded in 27 undergraduate fields of study and 15 graduate fields. During commencement, 175 students received graduate degrees, 53 received specialist in education degrees and 2 received doctorates. 

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