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This item originally appeared in the Feb. 19, 2004, issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

Hollis Downs, a District 12 State Representative and Tech graduate, will return to his alma mater to speak at Winter Quarter Commencement on March 5 in Thomas Assembly Center.

Hollis Downs was born in Farmerville, graduated from Tech in 1968 and will return to give a speech he said will be both uplifting and enlightening.

Downs said after his graduation from Tech, he became a part of the U.S. Army Reserves for six years and the Louisiana National Guard for two years.

He is now a financial planner for Lincoln Financial Advisors, located at 207 W. Mississippi Ave.

Downs was elected District 12 State Representative on Jan. 18, 2003.

Downs said he is involved in many community activities and committees, including Tech-related boards such as the Louisiana Tech Foundation, the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association and the Greater Tech Foundation Board.

"Since my days as an undergraduate, I have maintained a strong passion for the university," Downs said.

Downs said the university has not only had an impact on him and his family members, but it has also made a huge impact on Ruston, Lincoln Parish, the state of Louisiana, the region and, in some cases, the nation.

Downs said Tech, along with Grambling State University, is the main economic driver of the area's economy.

"I am very pleased and challenged by the opportunity to address the graduates, their families and friends," Downs said.

Downs said he received the invitation to speak at graduation from Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau.

"I have been a great admirer and strong supporter of Dr. Reneau and his leadership at the university," Downs said.

"I have tried to continue that since being elected to the [Louisiana] House of Representatives."

Reneau said he chose Downs because he always looks for someone who would be a good role model of success for the graduates.

"[Downs] has been a loyal alumnus and helpful in many areas," Reneau said.

Reneau also said Downs has been an advocate for Tech as well as for the region during his time as state representative.

Reneau said Downs is a successful businessman who represents Tech well, and it is only appropriate for him to deliver his message to the graduates.

Erin McKenzie, a senior secondary education major, said on graduation day she wants to hear something short and relevant.

"I hope graduation day is something my family can look forward to instead of dread," McKenzie said.

McKenzie also said she is thrilled about graduation and cannot wait to hear her name called to walk across the stage.

Corita Thomas, a senior mechanical engineering major, said she will graduate March 5 after being at Tech for four-and-a-half years, and she is excited to begin the next stage of her life.

Thomas said after she graduates and takes some time off, she intends to return during summer quarter to work on her master's degree.

Thomas also said she hopes the speaker's message assures and gives graduates hope for the future.

"Assurance is the key," Thomas said. "The speech should be honest but optimistic."

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