Representatives Letlow, Johnson encourage Tech graduates to ‘choose joy,’ ‘pursue truth’ in commencement addresses

May 20, 2023 | Alumni, Applied and Natural Sciences, Business, Education and Human Sciences, Engineering and Science, General News, Liberal Arts, Students

Two commencement ceremonies at the Thomas Assembly Center saw Louisiana Tech University confer 1,040 degrees on members of the Tech Family and expand the total number of its graduates around the world to 112,907.

Julia Letlow speaks at graduation.

Julia Letlow speaks at graduation.

Congresswoman Julia Letlow was keynote speaker for the 9:30 a.m. ceremony and addressed graduates of the Colleges of Applied and Natural Sciences, Business, and Education. Letlow represents Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and she is both Louisiana’s first Republican woman elected to Congress and the first woman to represent Louisiana in the House of Representatives in 30 years.

Letlow’s message to graduates had a theme: “choose joy.”

“While happiness is a feeling, joy is a true state of being,” Letlow said. “And here’s the best part of this strategy: it’s possible to continuously experience joy even when you don’t feel happiness all the time.”

The congresswoman went on to explain that she learned how to follow this philosophy after experiencing grief and loss throughout her life.

“When you are going through one of life’s valleys,” she said, “and you feel as if all joy is gone, the one way to see it return is to get outside of yourself and to serve other people. When you can step outside of yourself and serve others, it will give your life meaning and, ultimately, joy.”

Mike Johnson delivers his commencement address.

Mike Johnson delivers his commencement address.

In the 2:30 p.m. ceremony for the Colleges of Engineering and Science and Liberal Arts, Congressman Mike Johnson delivered the commencement address. Johnson is currently serving his fourth term representing the state’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Referencing Letlow’s speech earlier in the day, Johnson said his speech had a theme of its own: “pursue truth.”

“Choosing joy and pursuing truth are critically important to every single one of us today,” Johnson said.

The congressman’s address called attention to the state of the world, and Johnson was quick to stress that the graduates’ education would help them persevere through challenging times.

“No matter how dark the skies, you can let your light shine through all that darkness,” he said. “And you can help to prove that virtue and love and bravery and integrity and charity are still possible.”

Also in the 2:30 p.m. ceremony, 1987 graduate in Electrical Engineering and current CEO of Radiance Technologies William “Bill” Bailey became the newest member of the University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni and the newest recipient of the Tower Medallion Award, the highest honor bestowed by Louisiana Tech, awarded to alumni who have distinguished themselves by exceptional achievement, community service, and humanitarian activities.