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May 20, 2006

ULM Spring 2006 graduates receive diplomas

The University of Louisiana at Monroe awarded diplomas to 672 students at the 2006 Spring Commencement May 20 in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

State Rep. Dr. Francis C. Thompson, an ULM alum, delivered the commencement address. Among his many professional accomplishments, Thompson served as an assistant professor at the university's College of Education for over 20 years.

Thompson offered congratulations in his opening remarks and reiterated it was an exciting time in the graduates' lives and in the history of ULM, currently celebrating its 75th anniversary.

"Many of the successes I have personally experienced in my life have been the result of my many associations with this great institution as a student and faculty member."

Thompson focused on the many positive strides that ULM has made, including a 13 percent increase in enrollment, a 40 percent increase in TOPS eligible freshman, a 32 percent increase in alumni participation, a $68 million dollar bond issue that makes it one of the largest student housing projects in the Southeastern U.S., and the securing of the State Farm Building for ULM's College of Pharmacy.

"Graduation is a time of beginnings... a time when we must start to make new lives for ourselves... a time when we must chart new directions for the future... a time when we must come to the realization that all we have done to this point has been done to build foundations for the future," Thompson said. "A college education provides a strong yet flexible foundation for your future lives. What you did here will influence you in the years to come."

Dedication, self-discipline and the spirit of respect were praised, but Thompson especially emphasized the value of honesty. He cited a Vanderbilt University professor who said that many good men in the world could not pass an examination in trigonometry, but that all good men could pass one in honesty, and that was the more important of the two.

Thompson said his generation was leaving the next generation of leaders "a nation which allows individuals to achieve any goal to which they aspire and for which they are willing to work."

The graduates had an unlimited potential for success, bolstered by their enthusiasm, Thompson said. "Enthusiasm will help you accept defeats, and defeats are a part of life. Your school years have taught you how to win and how to lose... how to accept success and how to bounce back from failure. You have learned that determination will overpower failures in school and in life."

He began his example of someone who followed this philosophy with the statement, "The mark of greatness is invincible determination." Thompson recounted the extensive failures and defeats that Abraham Lincoln endured on his road to becoming a U.S. president.

He praised the many benefits the students enjoyed as U.S. citizens, and he reminded them that the nation demands of them their very best in return.

Thompson told a story of flocks of sea gulls in St. Augustine, Fla. that were starving to death, though surrounded by food, because they had become dependent on shrimp fleets for their sustenance. "These sea gulls, the free-flying birds that symbolize liberty itself, had made the tragic mistake of depending on others instead of relying upon their abilities."

Self-reliance, integrity, sacrifice and dedication, are vital to one's future, Thompson said. "For those traits, more than gold or silver or oil, are this nation's greatest resources. And people who possess those qualities are our greatest hope for the future of this nation."

ULM President James E. Cofer Sr. conferred degrees and awarded diplomas at Saturday's commencement.

The 2006 spring class contains seven top graduatesā€¹all earned perfect 4.0 grade point averages. These degree recipients markedly represent all of the university's academic colleges this semester. This also denotes the largest number of 4.0 graduates in a single class in ULM history. The previous record was five in spring 1992.

The top graduates are:

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).

Army ROTC ULM Student Cadets Stewart Cathey (Monroe) and Natasha Roberson (New Orleans) were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army May 19 at 9 a.m. at the ULM Library 7th floor terrace.

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