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December 18, 2004

ULM Fall 2004 Commencement

The University of Louisiana at Monroe held its 2004 Fall Commencement Dec. 18 in Fant-Ewing Coliseum at 2 p.m.
Diplomas were awarded to 419 students during the fall commencement. ULM President James E. Cofer, Sr. conferred degrees and awarded diplomas. Karen Puckett, President and Chief Operating Officer of CenturyTel, delivered the commencement address.

As COO of CenturyTel since 2000, Puckett directs all of the company's operations, including sales, marketing, field operations, engineering, call centers and other support functions. Puckett received her bachelor's degree from Indiana State University and her master's degree in Business Administration from Bellarmine College.
Before speaking to the graduates Saturday, Puckett left a message for each student in their chair during graduation rehearsal Friday. Part of that message read, "As you prepare for tomorrow's big day as well as your future I challenge you with this question- what is the life you want to create?"

During her speech, Puckett told the graduates she remembered that on her graduation day she was filled with excitement for the future. She then discussed the answers some of the graduates gave about what kind of life they wanted for themselves in the future.

Some wanted a family and wanted to be able to provide for that family, yet also have enough to give to others in need.

Puckett then described four points to the graduates that would help them achieve the life of their dreams.

"First, you should determine your outcome," Puckett said. Then, quoting author Dr. Stephen R. Covey, she said, "Begin with the end in mind." She then asked the students where they wanted to be in 25 years and to start working toward that goal.

"Second, you need to stay grounded. Stay focused on why you do what you do," Puckett said. She related this to the business practice of understanding who your customer is and staying focused on that customer. For recent graduates, their customers could be family, friends or any organization. She added, "You must stay focused even when you face obstacles."

Her third point was accountability and ownership. Puckett said, "Commit to doing something, then do it. No reasons or excuses, just do what you said you would do. This includes keeping those commitments you made to yourself. Commitment is about doing things you don't always feel like doing, but you're accountable. Anything less than this is not commitment."

She told the graduates about General George. S. Patton- a man who took action. "He is known for saying 'a good plan executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.' Don't wait until you have a perfect plan to take action!"

The final point Puckett made to the graduates was to be flexible and accept change. She said, "This is where you continue to adjust your plan as you learn what's working and what's not. We live in a fast-changing world that is filled with uncertainty. There's no place in the world you can go to avoid that."

Top graduate for the Fall 2004 graduating class was Lily Siphronia Jeane, who received the bachelor of business administration in computer information systems with a 3.878 grade point average. Jeane is the daughter of Glen and Nelda Jeane of Pineville.

Several honor graduates were recognized during the ceremonies. They are designated as summa cum laude (3.900-4.000), magna cum laude (3.750-3.899) and cum laude (3.500-3.749).

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