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May 16, 2009

ULM commencement speaker: Go with confidence

Representative Frank Hoffmann served as keynote speaker when the University of Louisiana at Monroe awarded 645 degrees to 639 students during Spring Commencement exercises Saturday, May 16, in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Hoffmann, a ULM alum, acknowledged the graduates were receiving their degrees in troubled times in our country and society. “So what bit of advice do I give the ULM class of 2009? In thinking that over, my advice to you, is, for wherever you’re headed now, to work, or on to further schooling, the military, whatever it is, in these crazy and unsure and even scary times, my advice to you is to ‘go with confidence.’

“You prepared yourselves for this moment. It’s why you put in all that hard work and long hours to get to this point. It’s where graduation meets commencement. You can do this and you can do it well.”

He examined the difference between graduations and commencements, with one implying completion, and the other starting something new, and remarked that these ceremonies meant both for the graduates.

“Remember the good times and the not-so-good times. Often it’s the not-so-good times that make us better, stronger in the long run. I’d also like to encourage you to remember the people, the people that have meant so much to you…You know who they were, who they are. The people that have helped make up your life, get you to this great point today.

“And then there are those you’ve met here at ULM…There’s myriads of friends, roommates, classmates, teammates, people who also have helped make up your life. Teachers, advisors, friends. The people you’ve met here at ULM in many cases will be important people in your lives for the rest of your lives.

“Our past, of course, helps create our future. That’s why graduation, the completion, and commencement, the beginning, both accurately describe what’s going on today.”

As part of his conclusion, Hoffmann said he was reminded of a story told by Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for President Reagan. “She said she had a three-stage reaction to working in the White House:

• Stage One: ‘I hope nobody here figures out how stupid I am.’

• Stage Two: ‘Hey, I’m as smart as everyone else around here.’

• Stage Three: ‘Goodness gracious, we’re in charge.’

“That three-stage reaction has been the same wherever and whatever I’ve done…I think you’ll find that to be the case, also. You can do this. And pretty soon, ‘goodness gracious, you’ll be in charge.’ Your preparation, your education here at ULM has helped you get ready for that. You can do this.”

There were four top 2009 spring graduates, each with a 4.0 grade point average:

• Gary Morgan Jones of Franklinton, a pharmacy major

• Sarah Elizabeth Neal of Pleasant Hill, a pharmacy major

• Beejal Mukund Shah of Monroe, a pharmacy major

• Amanda Strope of Longmont, Colo., a general studies major

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 Jeremy David Holloway of Little Elm, Texas; David Alexander Neill of Bossier City; and David Patrick Scott of Wahiawa, Hawaii, were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army Friday , May 15 at 2 p.m. at the ULM Student Union Building, Ballroom C.

More about Hoffmann:

Hoffmann earned all three of his degrees at ULM: a bachelor’s in speech and social studies, a master’s in elementary education and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.

During his prolific career, he found the time to offer his services as an adjunct assistant professor at his alma mater and has been very involved in ULM committees and organizations, including the Alumni Association and his role as the voice of the Warhawks for 34 years, doing radio play-by-play for both football and basketball.

Hoffmann was elected as a state representative in 2007 and serves as vice chair of the Education Committee. Other committee assignments include Retirement, Ways and Means, and the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay.

Hoffmann retired as assistant superintendent for the Ouachita Parish School System. His career there spanned positions as elementary teacher, junior high teacher, principal, curriculum supervisor, supervisor of instruction, and personnel director.

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