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December 15, 2001

ULM graduates hear words of wisdom at Saturday's Commencement

Fall 2001 Graduates of the University of Louisiana at Monroe took the stage to get their degrees Saturday, December 15, 2001. The ceremony began at 2:00 p.m. in Fant-Ewing Coliseum on the campus of ULM.

Jack Hawkins, Jr., Ph.D., Chancellor of The Troy State University System, spoke to the 524 graduates at ULM. He told them about the vulnerability of America right now; as shown by the devastation of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.

"Our vulnerability as a society is bad news-you are the good news. Your achievement that we celebrate today offers hope, as it indicates you can make a difference in the communities in which you choose to live and serve. These communities will need more than your expertise; they will need you to assume leadership roles. I encourage you to embrace that role of leadership.

But what does it mean to be a leader? The word "leadership" has more than 300 definitions. My favorite is simple: Leadership is the management of hope."

Hawkins went on to describe a meaning for each letter in the word "lead" for the graduates. He also said he was proud to be the last commencement speaker for ULM with Lawson Swearingen as President. Hawkins closed by saying, "Congratulations to the graduates and their families! Thank you for allowing me to share this special day with you. God bless you!"

Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., a native of Mobile, Alabama, has been Chancellor of The Troy State University System since Sept. 1, 1989. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Montevallo and his doctorate from the University of Alabama. Hawkins has been involved in Higher Education for many years. He served as an assistant dean at the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1971-1979, and as president of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Talledega in 1979-1989. Hawkins stays involved with his community by serving in many groups including the Better Business Bureau of Central Alabama, Troy Bank and Trust Company, Edge Regional Medical Center and the Governor's Committee on Employment of the Disabled, among others.

ULM President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., said being president at ULM has been a highlight in his life.

"Today marks the thirty-second time that I have been privileged to stand before a graduation class as President of this university. It is particularly fitting that this ceremony---the conferral of academic degrees--shall be among my last of official duties. There is nothing else required of a chancellor of president that is more significant, or more meaningful, than what we do here today. Some years ago, I sat where you are sitting, and I dreamed dreams not unlike your own. Sharon and I have been richly blessed and serving our alma mater in this way over the past decade will always rank among the great privileges that we are likely to experience. We challenge each of you to seek ways in which you may serve ULM in the future. Your lives will be enriched by that service."

Two ULM students shared the "Top Graduate" honors, graduating with perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point averages. They were Brandyn LeBoeuf from Houma, an accounting major in the College of Business Administration; and Katherine Sewell from Monroe, a double major in Biology in Spanish in the college of Pure and Applied Sciences.

Six students earned advanced graduate degrees. They are: (name, degree): Sherry Butler, Ed.S.; Tobi Brown, S.S.P.; Michelle Reeves, S.S.P.; Joanne Hood, Ed. D.; Giovanna Devercelli, Ph.D.; and Padmavati Venkataraman, Ph.D.

Fall 2001 saw the largest number of double degrees at one commencement for ULM.

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