More than 500 graduate from JCJC during spring ceremony

Written By: Kelly Atwood
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Date Submitted: 2013-05-13 07:03:25

      Choices, not chance, will determine a person’s destiny. That was the message shared with 503 graduates who participated in Jones County Junior College’s spring commencement exercises held May 10 in Ellisville.
      Using both historical and pop culture references relatable to college students, keynote speaker Dr. Samuel Jones, JCJC’s Dean of Student Affairs, listed life principles he wanted graduates to take with them. Sharing Aristotle’s famous quote, “excellence is never an accident,” Jones explained that those participating were not there by chance, but by choices they had made.
    “Going forward, you’ll have to make choices every day of your life,” he said. “You can choose to be positive or negative; a worrier or a warrior.”
     Jones, who once played professional basketball, recently received his PhD and is an author and inspirational speaker, shared the movie The Lion King as a source of inspiration for students. The young lion of the movie was told by his father to look inside himself, become more than he was, and take his place in life. Jones listed six principles to help students find their places in life.
    Jones’ first principle was asking students to take 100 percent responsibility for their own lives, asking them to not blame others for their choices. Quoting an old African proverb, “If there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can do no harm,” he explained that often, people can be their own worse enemy.
   His second principle was, “Always know the small things do matter.” Using his first book as an example, he explained, “One sentence turned into a paragraph. One paragraph turned into a page. One page into a chapter….” until he had finished his book.
    Jones explained the third principle, “Even when you don’t get what you want, it’s going to be okay,” with examples that sometimes, people are better without things they thought they wanted, but only later do they realize it.
   In his fourth principle, he encouraged students to make an investment by believing in themselves. He used the singer Prince as an example of this principle, explaining that when Prince first started out 30 years ago, he opened for the Rolling Stones, where he was booed off stage. Although he had a bad start, because he believed in himself, he continued, and today, he’s sold over 80 million records.
   “You must always have hope,” Jones said, stating his fifth principle. He used the example of a 60-year-old sheepherder who participated in an annual 600-mile, five-day race in Australia. Although he was 30 years older than most of the runners, was dressed in boots rather than running shoes, and ran at a slow pace, he not only won the race but broke the record by nine hours.
   His last principle was, “Don’t spend your faith on yourself,” which he explained by quoting the last talk given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before his 1968 assassination:
     “Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop….
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”
   Jones explained that he, too, has been to the mountaintop and done some great things, but he just wants to do God’s will, and that’s what he hopes the graduates will do: “Seek to do God’s will in anything you pursue in life. It doesn’t matter what the critics say. You’ll find your place. You’ll carve out that spot just for you, and when you do, you’ll affect someone else. I encourage you to stay focused, keep the faith and may God bless you.”
   Feeling blessed are mother and son graduates, Corey and Jacqueline Boss of Richton and Purvis, respectively. Corey is the first in his family to get a college degree, he boasted, even though his mother graduated with him, his name is first in the alphabet, so he technically is first to graduate. His mother, explained, “This is a dream of mine to get a college education and it’s very special to reach that goal with my son.”
 Corey added, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to graduate with my mom. It’s very satisfying.”


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