Lanier Technical College Graduates 1,071 in Historic 53rd Commencement Event!

May 22, 2019

The Class of 2019 is the first class to graduate at the Hall Campus Quad.

The following are excerpts from the inspiring speech to the graduates by Dr. Ray Perren, President of Lanier Technical College.

Every graduation is an important event in the lives of our students- but this year’s ceremony is a little more special than others. Today’s graduates represent the 53nd Graduating Class from Lanier Technical College. We are thrilled today that for the first time in many years, we are holding commencement outdoors on campus. History is made here today. Class of 2019, you will forever be the first class to graduate from this campus.

Today is a day of celebration. We are here to celebrate the success of each of our graduates. We are here to thank each instructor, each staff member, and each family member who served as partners in progress to help these graduates reach this milestone event in their lives. We are all partners in progress. The school motto that very first graduating class selected for Lanier Tech was “Partners in Progress.” Those graduating students many years ago understood that their educational experiences at Lanier Tech was part of a partnership that prepared them to enter the workforce and build great careers. These original students felt so strongly about this partnership that they built a sculpture that stood on our Oakwood Campus for many years. The name of the sculpture was “Partners in Progress.” Our students here have replicated that sculpture which now proudly stands on the front lawn of this campus in honor of that first graduating class as well as the well over 30,000 graduates who have followed them.

That original graduating class realized that technical education is a partnership between them and our faculty and staff. The amazing faculty and staff do their part by helping our students build the knowledge base, develop the skill set, and adopt the work ethic; while our students do their part by applying these lessons learned to not justcomplete their program of study but to become outstanding members of Northeast Georgia’s workforce.

Graduates, today I reaffirm to you that we are your “partners in progress” as well as partners in progress with the countless students who will walk our campuses in generations to come.

There are 1,071 eligible to participate in today’s ceremony. Of that number, twenty nine percent of you are earning the associate of applied science degree. Forty percent of you are earning a college diploma, and thirty-one percent of you are earning a technical certificate of credit. Many of you are earning more than one credential. You are graduating from over forty different programs.

Fifty-five percent of you are women and forty-five percent of you are men. And get this, the oldest graduate is 74 years old, while the youngest graduate is 15. You are a smart bunch as your average GPA is 3.46. But the best statistic of all is, if you are like the classes ahead of you, 100% you are either employed or are planning to continue your education.

1,071 is just a number. The real power of that number is that it represents 1,071 different success stories; 1,071 different reasons for pursuing your education at Lanier Technical College; and 1,071 futures that are ahead for each of our graduates.

Many of you in this graduating class are the first in your family to earn a college degree. Some of our graduates are multi-generational. Whether you are a first-generation college graduate or a tenth generation college graduate, your family and friends helped pave the way to get you where you are today.

Graduation is the evidence of the work this college does. But our real success is not measured by how many people walk across the stage this day. Our success is measured by the success of our graduates as you enter the workforce and as you build your great careers. I think that I speak for the entire faculty and staff when I say that, “We have no greater joy than to hear that you walk in truth and to see you succeed in your careers and more importantly, in life.

Graduates, your “partners in progress” at Lanier Technical College wish you the best as you continue your life’s journey. We are so happy you chose Lanier Tech as the place to get your college education. Not only are you prepared to go into the workforce thanks to your experiences here, but Lanier Technical College is a better institution because you chose to pass this way. Thank you.”

Pennie Eddy, Lanier Tech’s 2018 Instructor of the Year and keynote speaker, remarked to the graduates,

“We tend to collect things to remind us of events. Mementoes, nick-knacks, chotchkes that sit on our end tables, on our books shelves.

Sitting on my desk is just such a memento. It’s a large chunk of coal, and beside it is a picture that was taken when I was 800 feet down and a mile back under-ground, standing in front of a wall of coal. It was taken when I was an auditor for Shell Oil Company.

I use that chunk of coal to talk about the importance of getting out from behind the desk and out into the business to understand the needs of the industry.

Identifying those business needs and filling those needs is what the faculty and staff of the Technical College System of Georgia do every day in matching the needs of today’s employers with the needs of today’s students. You! And it’s the hands-on training that we specialize in, here at Lanier Tech, in preparing YOU for today’s workforce. It’s what WE do! But, oh the places YOU will go! And oh, the things YOU can do!”

GOAL Student of the Year, Chase Sweda, shared his thoughts to his fellow graduates,

“This is only the beginning of the next chapter of your lives. Keep up the hard work, and always give it 110% at all times. It is now time to build off of the platform that Lanier Tech has provided you and to excel in whatever you have chosen to do for your careers.

Take in as much knowledge as you can from other peers and experienced workers in your field, be willing to listen and learn from them. It is important to try and learn something every day.

To wrap this up, here’s my favorite quote by Stephen C. Hogan, ‘You can’t have a million-dollar dream, with a minimum wage work ethic’.”