Bethel University held its Fall 2016 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Rosemary and Harry Crisp Arena on the school’s McKenzie campus. Four hundred and two candidates were eligible for degrees. Degrees awarded included associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees.
Dr. Logan Hampton, President of Lane College, was the commencement speaker. Hampton began with a story about author Alex Haley.
“Haley was said to keep a picture in his office of a turtle sitting on top of a fencepost,” Hampton said. “Haley said the picture was there to remind him of a lesson he once learned – the lesson being if you see a turtle on top of a fencepost, you know he had some help.”
Hampton pointed out how we are all turtles on fenceposts and how others have helped each of us along the way.
“So today,” he said. “We not only celebrate this milestone for you, but we celebrate all the people who have helped us. There are probably even some people that you don’t personally know who helped in some significant way get you to this point.”
Hampton also pointed out that only by the grace of God do we have the blessings we do. He quoted the Bible passage, Ephesians 3:20.
“This verse says now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. God is exceeding all that you ask or dream of in working to help you exceed your dreams.”
Hampton said he wanted to leave three key thoughts with Bethel graduates.
“First,” he said, “This degree marks you as one of the learned. For all of us, change is coming at a rapid pace. But this place – this degree has helped you learn how to learn. So as human knowledge is doubling at the current pace of every 13 months, you are equipped to know how to learn these new things.
“The greatest tool you leave with today is the ability to learn.”
Hampton said his second point had to do with love.
“The world is looking for leadership,” he said. “I encourage you to lead with love. This world needs love.
“Also remember that the secret to success is to stay in love – stay in love with the things in which you are involved,” he said. “This gives you the fire and the motivation to get things done.”
Hampton’s last point dealt with laughter.
“Laugh with life,” he said. “In life, you choose to smile or frown. Laugh with life and if you can’t laugh with life, laugh at it.
“You get to choose,” he said. “You can endure the ride of life or you can enjoy it.”
One of the oldest universities in Tennessee, Bethel will celebrate its 175th birthday in 2017. Headquartered in McKenzie, it offers bachelor’s master’s and associate degrees through a variety of learning platforms.