U. S. Senator Fred Thompson encouraged Tennessee Tech University graduates to use their knowledge of economics and history to support good political leaders who will safeguard freedom.
Sen. Thompson spoke to 887 graduates, their families and friends during spring commencement ceremonies Saturday in Tennessee Tech's Hooper Eblen Center.
"Too many leaders encourage you to just send all your money to Washington and tell you they will solve all your problems," said Thompson. "They'll spend your money and at the same time take away your freedom. You should support good leaders."
Thompson's address focused on the personal responsibilities graduates have when facing the ups and downs of the economy, the uncertainty of war and ethical dilemmas such as human cloning.
"You have control over the kind of person you are," he said. "You can show honesty and integrity and go against the grain."
He reminded the audience that "corporate heads have toppled across the nation" because of their inability to follow through with honest practices. "
I'm not here to tell you what to do when you grow up, because I haven't decided myself," said Thompson, who recently announced he would not run for re-election. "But not all uncertainty is bad. In fact, today may be the last day you receive something that was totally planned."
He suggested ways to protect national freedoms without being a politician. He told graduates to vote, make informed decisions and look for ways to serve within a career field.
"Focus on what you can do, not what the world does to you," he said.
Thompson called Tennessee Tech a "first-rate institution of national recognition" that is important to the state and the nation. "I committed to speak here because of my respect for this institution, the people on the podium and in the audience, and the new president," he said.
Sen. Thompson is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over taxes, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare reform, and international trade. He also serves as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the National Security Working Group, which observes and monitors executive branch negotiations with foreign governments. In 2002, he was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Prior to commencement, the university ROTC Battalion held its spring commissioning ceremony. Earning commissions as Second Lieutenants were Joshua A. Gentry, Amanda Dodd Johnson, Jeffrey T. McCullough, Roman D. Reese and Martha Bell Russell.
During commencement, 141 students received graduate degrees and 54 received specialist in education degrees. Walter D. Sessions, Douglas A. Wymer and Ping Yan received doctor of philosophy degrees. Students graduating from Tennessee Tech this term represented 22 other states, 75 Tennessee counties and 12 foreign countries. Degrees were awarded in 40 undergraduate fields of study and 17 graduate fields.