Frostburg State graduates 64

May 28, 1997


Staff Writer

The keynote speaker at Tuesday night's graduation ceremony for Frostburg State University's Hagerstown Center congratulated the 64 members of the class of 1997 and then hit them with a few sobering thoughts.

"Welcome to the real world," said Richard W. Phoebus Sr., president and CEO of Home Federal Savings Bank in Hagerstown. "We all are in great need of your help."

Phoebus then passed along a few nuggets of advice about succeeding in business and life, drawing on personal experience.

"I've learned a lot - much of it I didn't want to learn," he told several hundred graduates and family members at the Maryland Theatre.


Lesson No. 1: "Beware of any lesson you have learned from quick or easy success," he said. "It may be a lie."

Phoebus also warned the graduates not to think of work as they do school. In school, he said, a student can study hard and earn top grades throughout. Not so in life.

"Real life is not straight As," he said. "You will learn that there are people who are smarter, who are faster. You'll be embarrassed; you'll be humiliated."

But those who overcome those regular setbacks will ultimately triumph, Phoebus said. He pointed to examples in business: IBM, Chrysler Corp. and others have retooled and recovered from disasters. The same is true for people, he said.

Declaring that the gravest mistakes are made during the best of times, Phoebus also urged graduates to rely on their instincts.

"The biggest mistakes I've ever made were when I did not let my gut tell me something was wrong," he said.

Many of the graduates at FSU's Hagerstown Center went back to school after working for a number of years. Student speaker Charles W. Kepler picked up on that theme.

"We are non-traditional students - unlike the traditional students on the main campus," he said. "And we have taken, it seems, forever to get our degrees."

But Kepler, a former farmer and truck driver, said those life experiences made him and his classmates better students and better equipped to face life after graduation.

Kepler also made a pitch for the continued backing of the Hagerstown Center.

"We need the funding and we need the support," he said. "With your help, we can keep this center going forever and ever."

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