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Graduates get advice on being persistent

By Kendra Majors

Sue Bell Cobb offered one message for the 2008 graduates of Troy University on Friday: Persistence is crucial in the face of tremendous challenges ahead.

Cobb, Alabama’s Chief Justice, delivered the keynote address to some 350 graduates at Troy University’s fall commencement exercises Friday.

As she talked about how 2008 has brought the new generation of Americans tough challenges, many that have come and many more that lay ahead, Cobb encouraged graduates to be tenacious, persistent, resilient, creative and efficient and to learn to do with less.

“There is a flip side to these challenges,” she said. “Have you noticed how quickly ‘me’ has turned to ‘we’ during these times?”

She encouraged graduates to exhibit the virtues of their ancestors to survive the times.

“A large number of folks are struggling to deal with the changes in the economy and companies are laying people off,” Cobb said. “But that is not where this story ends; this is where it begins.”

Cobb emphasized the need to be persistent in the search for a job because more and more graduates are having difficulties finding jobs. Persistence is something Cobb knows well, as Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr., characterized Cobb as being one of the most persistent people he knows.

Throughout her speech, Cobb referenced Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation,” explaining how this generation fought to overcome the great depression, when most had no work and were starving. Cobb explained how persistence and determination helped this generation throughout the depression and World War II.

“They understood what the priorities were,” Cobb said. “They sacrificed themselves for their God, family and country.”

Cobb ended her speech with a story about her father who passed away shortly after she was elected chief justice.

She encouraged graduates to be generous to others, as her father, Otis Bell, did.

Bell’s generosity followed him past his death, as even the postman wanted to help the family in anyway possible. Cobb said the postman told the family how thankful he was of the time Bell took to teach him how to hunt. The man offered to pick up the sticks in the yard in return for the generosity Bell had shown him as a child.

“I am absolutely convinced the challenge is that we live our lives so when our end comes someone will want to pick up our sticks,” Cobb said.

Despite the challenges many graduates may face in the coming months, most remain optimistic. “It’s a great milestone in my career,” said Dustion Scott of Opelika. “It’s the beginning to a road to success and happiness, and I thank God.”

Scott graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management.

“I’m so excited. I can’t wait to use the wonderful knowledge Troy has given me,” said Megan Piland of Kinston. Piland, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English-language arts education, said she is excited about the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Other graduates are choosing to continue their education at Troy.

“It’s been a long road and it’s finally come to an end,” said Torian Salary of Haines City, Fla., who graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism.

Salary will continue his education at Troy and will pursue a master’s degree in business management.

Although many graduates are optimistic about the future, others are concerned about the challenges the job market may bring.

“It’s a scary time to be a graduate because of the job market,” said Cynthia Parnell of Westminster, Colo. “Truer words could not have been spoken better, than those by Sue Bell Cobb,” Parnell added.