Tech holds winter commencement ceremonies

Mar 6, 2010 | General News

Three hundred fourteen students received diplomas at Louisiana Tech’s winter graduation ceremony, held Saturday, March 6 at the Thomas Assembly Center.

Two of that number, John Rowland, of Columbia, and Kayla Blount, of Walker, graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Rowland, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance, said a lot of studying went into his accomplishment, but he also was active in intramural sports and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry.

“I studied a lot, I worked hard and I was blessed,” Rowland said. “Tech felt like home. The people are very friendly, Ruston’s a beautiful town and I knew I’d get a great education here.”

Rowland said his fiancé also graduated from Tech Saturday, and the two plan to make Ruston their home. Lindsay Smith, of Mansfield, graduated with her fiancé Saturday as well. She received a bachelor’s diploma in family and child studies and said her degree took seven years to complete.

“I was off and on again because my dad got sick, so I took some time off,” Smith said. “He’s here today with my mom, my fiancé’s family and my aunt, who flew in from Washington, D.C.”

Drake Mills, president and CEO of Community Trust Bank, served as the keynote speaker and encouraged graduates to view the world positively.

“Let me change what you think the world looks like,” Mills said. “Any long term successful economy needs land, labor and capital, and the United States has all three.”

Mills said the U.S.’s economy is the largest in the world and is bigger than the next four – Japan, China, Germany and Great Britain – combined. He also said that while the U.S. does have a debt issue, the graduates need to make and could create a difference in the world.

“Choose your attitude,” he said. “Each day you wake up, you decide your attitude. Be present. No matter how much time you spend with one person, if you make that one person feel like they’re that one person in the world, you’ll make a difference.”

Misti Walker, of Ruston, received her second diploma from Louisiana Tech – her master’s in nutrition and dietetics. Her family, including her mother, Toni Harrington, came up from south Louisiana to help Walker celebrate.

“Misti’s the first one on both sides of our family to graduate with a master’s,” Harrington said. “All but one of us is here. We are so excited and proud. We’ll be the loud, crazy ones at the ceremony.”

Walker said it had been a long road to receiving her master’s, but, like most challenges, it was worth it in the end.

“I had a good undergrad experience, and I wanted to use data from a project I worked on as an undergraduate with Dr. (Mary) Murimi,” Walker said. “Dr. Murimi has been my mentor since I walked through the doors of Carson Taylor Hall. But I have to say, the entire nutrition department is pretty amazing.”

Walker and Harrington said they planned a large graduation party to celebrate Walker’s accomplishment. Harrington added that Tech was the best choice for Walker, from the beginning of her undergraduate career.

“We all fell in love with Tech when she was a freshman,” Harrington said. “I would have loved for all of my kids to come here, but they each had their own plans.”

Mills ended his address by encouraging those present to go beyond expectations and support their alma mater.

“Don’t ever forget Louisiana Tech University,” he said. “We need your participation, your representation and your support. Please be a part of the future of this great university.”

Written by Judith Roberts