COMMERCE, Texas - Dr. Wright Lassiter, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, stressed the importance of having the ability to improvise in life at Texas A&M University-Commerce Commencement on May 16.
Speaking to graduates in three ceremonies during the day, Lassiter told graduates in the College of Education and Human Services ceremony that students in their classes have been learning the tools to engage in the process of improvisation.
He told a story how at the Lionel Jazz Festival young musicians were struggling with the basic understanding of how music should be interpreted. "They lacked the skill to improvise."
This generation may be the last to help America realize its potential and possibilities, he said.
"As you leave Texas A&M University-Commerce, reach out until we are all educated citizens into the world," Lassiter said. "Each one reach one."
Speaking to students in the College of Arts and Sciences and Business and Technology ceremony, Lassiter gave examples of people who faced odds and excelled.
He noted in 1927 that Charles Lindberg flew alone from New York to Paris. "He had no radar, no radio, no parachute, and no automatic pilot. He could see nothing out of his front windshield because a spare gas tank had been welded to it," Lassiter said.
Lindberg flew for 33 hours without sleep and could look forward only by using a periscope that was made from two pocket mirrors. "What Lindberg did was impossible until he did it. Something is impossible only until it is accomplished," the DCCCD chancellor said.
At the Graduate School graduation, Lassiter told the doctoral and master's degree students to "stand up and be counted.
Graduates, you have a new set of tools at your disposal. These tools for critical and creative thinking and research allow you to challenge the process, to question the status quo."
The second principle, he said, is to "lead with your heart, and not just your head."
"But how about the "feeling" part, your heart?" Lassiter said. "We need your contribution of heart and soul, your compassion, both in your arena of work, and in the larger community."
A total of 1,028 A&M-Commerce students received diplomas during the day.
In the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business and Technology graduation, Stacy Thrush of Lone Oak was awarded a Bachelor of Science with High Honors.
The student's honors thesis was on the "Importance of Intercultural Communication: Overcoming Language Barriers in Higher Education."
Thrush's adviser was Dr. John Ballotti, faculty member in the Department of Mass Media, Communication, and Theatre.
To graduate with honors, a student is required to write an honors thesis and grade point average of 3.25 or higher.
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