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GSW recognizes 2018 graduates, welcomes home Americus native Gen. Tom Carden Jr.

AMERICUS — The Georgia Southwestern State University Class of 2018 took their final steps, and for some their first steps, on campus Wednesday at the Fall 2018 Commencement ceremony in the Student Success Center. A noteworthy 426 students earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees.
The commencement speaker was Brigadier Gen, Thomas Carden Jr., the Deputy Commanding General of the Multinational Division South East, stationed in Bucharest, Romania.
When it comes to selecting a commencement speaker, GSW President Neal Weaver stated, “Our objective is to find someone who has risen to a notable level in his or her career field, has an inspiring personal story, and is someone whose speech you may like to hear. It’s an added bonus if the individual is a Georgia Southwestern graduate. General Carden certainly checks every one of those boxes.”
In his third commencement address as GSW President, Weaver recognized the traditional students who graduated in an admirable four years who all earned a presidential gold coin. He also recognized those whose path to graduation took some different, less traditional routes.
“Maybe you’re a single mom, maybe you had a health issue you had to overcome, maybe you’re the first in your family to go to college … you all found a way to be successful even when things weren’t easy. For all of you who followed a broken road to our ceremony today, you may not be receiving a gold coin from me, but you certainly have my utmost admiration and respect. All of us at GSW are proud of you and proud for you.”
“Georgia Southwestern’s campus is full of extraordinary men and women,” Weaver added. “We cherish our unique position from which we watch you grow and develop, both in knowledge and maturity, and because of this we take tremendous joy from your successes and great pride in your accomplishments.”
Following an introduction from Weaver, Carden led his address with a quip noting, “Given my own experience with graduation ceremonies, I am not optimistic that any of you will remember anything I say today. But I do suspect you will remember how long it takes me to say it.”
“My hope is simply to remind you of your accomplishment and your capacity to achieve success well beyond your imagination,” Carden said.
Carden’s message went on to offer 10 short, personal, and entertaining stories to illustrate that fact. 1. Be confident. 2. Great can be the enemy of good enough. 3. The four-way stop analogy. 4. Being the smartest one in the room can be dangerous. 5. Manage your ego. 6. Find a mentor. 7. Get a job versus a position. 8. ‘Us’ and ‘we’, not ‘I’ and ‘me.’ 9. Take the time to decide what you are for before you decide what you are against. 10. Celebrate success.
As his speech concluded, Carden noted that it was “an honor to be home to see this university thrive. Today is a huge chapter in the life story of our graduates.”
Faculty Senate President and professor of chemistry, Elizabeth Gurnack, Ph.D., served as the Macebearer during commencement. Recently retired Nursing Professor Bonnie Simmons, Ph.D., was the Grand Marshal.
Watch the full ceremony HERE on GSW’s YouTube channel.