Former Gov. Jim Hodges dared graduates of Northeastern Technical College to “dream big dreams” and not fear improvement and innovation as they received degrees, diplomas and certificates at the college’s annual commencement ceremony held May 17.
“Think big and dream big, because too often in life, we simply don’t dream big enough,” he said. “We sometimes live in a world of our own creation, made of low expectations, and fail to achieve our full potential as a people, as a state and as a nation.”
Hodges also asked the graduates to remember Google’s motto, which is to have a “healthy disregard for the impossible.”
Hodges was the keynote speaker for the college’s commencement ceremony held at Cheraw High School where students received recognition for graduating from one of the college’s programs by the close of the spring semester 2014.
Hodges, along with faculty, staff and members of NETC’s Area Commission, joined graduates and their families in marking the milestone.
“We’re honored that you chose our college as a place in which you would continue your education, and we, along with all those assembled here today, celebrate your accomplishments,” said Dr. Ron Bartley, college president. “I urge you to never forget that learning and the pursuit of truth are valuable and everlasting traits.”
Bartley also reminded graduates that their successful completion of a program at NETC makes each one of them an alumnus of the college.
“Don’t think of your graduation as leaving us. What you’ll actually be doing is taking a part of us with you,” he said. “On this day, you’re an alumnus of Northeastern Technical College, and I officially designate each of you as a new member of our alumni association.”
Bartley took a moment during the ceremony to recognize four graduates who made going to college at NETC a “family affair,” announcing father and son graduates Kip and Graham Kiser as well as mother and son graduates Sandra and John Locklear to the audience.
“As you go forward in your life beyond NETC, remember all those people who helped you get to where you are today and pass this heritage on to the next generation,” Bartley said. “They will need you as much as you needed those who helped you get through this.”
Area Commission Chairman Herbert Watts introduced Hodges as the guest speaker, listing his many past accomplishments, including his achievements as governor, during which time he helped to establish the S.C. Education Lottery. Hodges served as the 114th governor of South Carolina from 1999 to 2003 and made education a top priority during his term.
Hodges spoke about his upbringing as the child of textile workers and how valuable education is for those wanting to succeed in today’s world.
“Your parents and grandparents will probably tell you that the world ahead is going to be easier for you than it was for them,” said Hodges. “Well, let me tell you… They are wrong.”
“Even though the world ahead of you may be more exciting or more interesting, the world has changed dramatically, especially when you think about where we are now compared to where we used to be,” he explained. “My great-grandfather and grandfather both worked in the textile mills in York County, and they raised families working for one company in one town, but neither of them had college degrees.”
He said the world of our fathers and grandfathers only exists on television and spoke about how small communities throughout the state are now struggling to survive. He told the graduates that reports show South Carolina needs more than 110,000 more two-year and four-year degree college graduates to meet the demands of today’s work force.
“The textile industry is gone, and the people without a post-secondary degree won’t have the chance to give their families that middle-class life that we yearn for,” Hodges said.
He also shared with the audience the story of his mother, who went back to college as a parent and was able to eventually earn her doctorate.
“Many of you had families and work to juggle and had to find time to study,” he said. “What is so important about this is the impact it will have on your children.”
“The example you set for your children, for your family and community is one of the value of education. Your degree is equally important because it sends a message that lives can be dramatically changed through the power of education.”
Prospective students should take note of the July 30 application deadline for the fall 2014 semester. Applications are available and will be accepted at any of the college campuses in Pageland, Cheraw, Bennettsville or Dillon. For more information, call 1-800-921-7399 and choose option 1 for admissions.
To download an application form, visit the admission page of the college website at www.netc.edu.
To view photos of NETC’s 2014 graduation ceremonies visit the Northeastern Technical College Alumni Association page on Facebook.