Grads told persistence is key to success

May 16, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MONT ALTO, Pa. -- About 200 students crossed the stage Saturday at Penn State Mont Alto's commencement and walked into the next phase of their lives.

Yet for all of the pomp and circumstance, the words of encouragement, wisdom and caution, one phrase said by university Chancellor David Gnage inspired the graduates more than anything.

"You are now graduates of Penn State University," he pronounced as the crowd erupted in cheers.

Holding her degree in her hand, Bethany Thomas said knowing she was "done" was a happy thought.

An occupational therapy graduate, Thomas said the program at Penn State Mont Alto was stressful and, at times, it almost got the best of her.

Yet the emotions of being a student were nothing compared to those she said flooded her Saturday.

"I am excited, overwhelmed and nervous for my future," she said.

For those concerned about their future, commencement speaker C. Gregory Hoover, superintendent of the Greencastle-Antrim School District and a former Mont Alto student, offered some simple advice.


"I only have one word for you today," he said. "Persistence."

Quoting President Calvin Coolidge, Hoover told the students "nothing can take the place of persistence."

"When you fall down your mountain road, when your knees are bleeding, when your elbows are bleeding, when this happens, get back up and keep going," Hoover said.

Gnage sent the graduates off to greet their families with one clear reminder.

They are Penn State.

They are Blue and White.

Now, they are graduates.

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