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August 12, 2006

ULM Summer 2006 graduates receive diplomas

The University of Louisiana at Monroe awarded diplomas to 264 students at the 2006 Summer Commencement August 12 in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Louis Nabors, an associate professor of voice as well as head of the Visual and Performing Arts’ Vocal Department, delivered the commencement address. Nabors began teaching at ULM in 1973.

Nabors’ opening remarks encouraged the graduates to be thankful and remember who had helped them while finding ways to contribute to their communities. He referred to the graduates as the new leaders of our nation.

“The truly meaningful big dreams in our lives always involve something more than our own advancement,” Nabors remarked. He asked the graduates if their ULM experiences impacted them so positively that they would return the favor to their fellow human beings. “I know the answer to that one—yes—because you are ULM graduates.”

He mentioned that he and his fellow ULM instructors had sought to teach the graduates more than a set curriculum—they also strove to hone skills in critical thinking, communication, decision making and interpersonal relationships.

“If you know the information, yet cannot convey it, you've helped no one,” Nabors continued. “If you know the information, yet do not use it to better the lives of yourself and others, it's worth nothing.”

He pointed out that as graduates of this university, they had already gained many personal benefits and accomplishments. He cited U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and imparted to the students that more than two-thirds of the new jobs created over the next ten years will require some kind of post secondary education.

Also, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, on average, full time workers with a college degree earn twice as much as those with only a high school diploma. In fact, men and women with a further advanced degree earn four to five times more than those with only a high school diploma.

“Remember this is your life and only you can live it, only you can achieve greatness and success in your own right,” Nabors said. He proceeded with a collection of advice he had Googled from a collection of famous people, statesmen, philanthropists and world leaders.

He advised them to be true to themselves and be the kinds of people that they would both professionally and personally respect.

“Make each day your masterpiece. Sometimes that means burning the midnight oil, missing lunch, missing sleep, and believing in yourself when others do not. Always aspire to work for success and not merely to finish the job. The creative abilities of this graduating class will determine the magnitude and extent of American prosperity in this century.”

Nabors told the graduates to help others, and that what we do locally, nationally and internationally affects our world. “Drink deeply from good books. Open your minds, continue to learn—and with an open mind embrace diversity.” He attributed diversity as a source of America’s strength, not weakness.

He recommended that the graduates make friendship a fine art and build shelters against a rainy day by being prepared. Nabors advised them to keep a sense of humor, to let go of negativity about past mistakes and live in the present.

“Be humble because humility is a sign of valor and a characteristic that is common among all great contributors to our nation’s history and our world as a whole. Be more concerned with your character as well as your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think of you.”

When it comes to a career, Nabors told the students to follow the calling of their hearts and obtain jobs and lives that they love.

He finished by informing the graduates that he has traveled all over the world, and he has never found a better country. He challenged the graduates to keep alive the defining notion of America: “that no matter where you were born, or how much your parents have, no matter what you look like or what you believe in, you can still rise to become whatever you want and still go on to achieve great things, still go on to pursue the happiness you hope for.”

“I just want to say on behalf of my fellow ULM faculty and staff that we are proud of you. We extended to you the baton of knowledge and you grasped it...Show the world it is your time.”

Nabors also trains ULM’s gospel group, the Interdenominational Ensemble, and has performed as a soloist and as a recitalist throughout the country and in Europe. He is currently on the Shreveport Opera Company roster, performs locally with the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, and is a board member and performer with the Houston Ebony Opera Guild. He frequently judges at state and regional competitions.

The top 2006 summer graduate is Carmelite Smith, an occupational therapy major from Ruston. She is the daughter of Wayne and Polly Smith. She graduates summa cum laude with a cumulative 3.95 grade point average.

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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