Archived News | Return to News Center

May 22, 2005

ULM Spring 2005 Graduates Receive Diplomas

The Spring 2005 commencement began at 2 p.m. in Fant-Ewing Coliseum at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Diplomas were awarded to 627 graduates. ULM President James E. Cofer, Sr. conferred degrees and awarded diplomas. Lieutenant General and ULM alumnus Michael W. Wooley delivered the commencement address. The three-star general is Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Wooley took the podium and told the graduates right away he felt privileged to be their commencement speaker. He said, "Honor is a word I don't throw around recklessly. I can tell you with all my heart and soul, it is truly an honor to speak to you all today."

He spoke about his experiences in life from ULM to the military, touching on the events of 9-11. He said, "We can't forgetwe shouldn't forget. Most of you were freshman that year, starting your first fall semester. In both an instant, and over the last four years, the world changed, and it will continue to change. You may not realize it now, but your education has prepared you for that constant change."

Wooley told the graduates while he had a good time at ULM, he also learned valuable life lessons. "My experience at ULM taught me to prioritize my time and balance my life. By no stretch of the imagination was I 'all work and no play' - as my GPA can attest. Rather, I loved my time here."

He added, "'Work hard, play hard' continues to drive my choices as a military commander, husband, and father of two daughters, and now - grandfather. Priorities, goals, whatever you want to call them - they keep you focused on what is really important, so you're not looking back with regret at the last second."

He told the graduates he knew they were just beginning their journey in life as he did once he graduated from ULM. "Little did I know I'd command 20,000 people and hold a $6.8 billion dollar annual budget. Just to put that in perspective, if you spent a dollar every second, it would take you 12 days to spend a million dollars; and it would take 32 years to spend a billion."

"When I was your age, I used to think about my parents and all the changes they saw over their lifetime. Now, I'm the guy with all the gray hairand my daughters ask me what it used to be like way back when. My answer has been the same since I entered the Air Force: technology is great, but people are what continue to amaze me. If you take one thing away from this, I hope it is this: You Manage 'Things'You Lead 'People'."

The AFSOC in Wooley's command provides Air Force Special Operations Forces and Combat Search and Rescue for worldwide deployment and assignment to unified combatant commanders. The command has approximately 20,000 personnel, including active-duty Airmen, civilian professionals and AFSOC-gained Reserve and Air National Guard members. AFSOC Airmen are among the world's busiest warriors, with hundreds deployed at all times around the world.

Wooley received his commission from Officer Training School and is a distinguished graduate of undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma. He has commanded the 17th Military Airlift Squadron; the 375th and 86th airlift wings and was Vice Commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command. At U.S. Forces Korea, the general was responsible for formulating strategy and policy for matters pertaining to the Republic of Korea and Northeast Asia. Prior to assuming his current position, he was Commander, 3rd Air Force, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, and England.

There are three top graduates with 4.0 grade point averages: Susan Clow, a computer information systems major from Monroe; Maria Echenique, an economics major from Argentina, and Damon Christopher Pichoff, a history major from Franklin.

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).

78 Pharm. D's were awarded; 80 received their masters degrees; 4 received the specialist in school psychology degree, and 11 received their doctor of philosophy degrees.

Army ROTC ULM Students Cadet Joseph Trent Herring and Cadet Russell Eugene Varnado were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army last week.

For this and other ULM News visit

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.