U.S. Representative Lincoln Davis, a 1966 TTU graduate, returned to his alma mater to give the keynote address. He recalled the commencement ceremony more than 35 years ago in which he was awarded his degree.
“I remember thinking what I would do once I received that degree, as I imagine many of you are doing today,” Davis said. “Perhaps some of you have figured that out and some of you haven’t, but one thing is certain — you won’t get anywhere if you don’t make an effort.”
“That doesn’t mean taking advantage and manipulating others,” he continued. “That means being resourceful and studious and paying attention to those around you, those from whom you might learn something.”
Because of the government’s commitment to public education, many more people today have opportunities to learn and earn college degrees, Davis said, but it still remains an individual’s choice to utilize those resources.
“Only one thing can stop you from reaching your full potential — and that’s yourself,” he concluded.
At the conclusion of his speech, Davis received a plaque from District Attorney Bill Gibson for his support of the newly formed S.M.A.R.T. Unit, Stopping Methamphetamine Around Rural Tennessee.
Saturday's commencement exercises brought the number of Tennessee Tech graduates since 1915 to almost 52,000. Tennessee Tech's newest alumni represented 34 undergraduate and 16 graduate fields and hailed from 68 Tennessee counties, 15 other states and seven foreign countries.
During commencement, TTU President Bob Bell recognized the retirement of Juanita Shettlesworth, an assistant professor of foreign languages. He also introduced Winston Morris, winner of the 2003 Donald Caplenor Faculty Research Award.
Earlier in the day, three military science students in the graduating class received commissions in the U.S. Army. They were Willie F. Eaton Jr., who earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies; Paul J. Keller Jr., who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance; and Rene Alexander Santos, who earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.