SAVANNAH — Armstrong Atlantic State University graduated 575 students at its Dec. 10 winter commencement ceremony. Henry “Hank” Huckaby, the 12th chancellor of the University System of Georgia, delivered a commencement address at two ceremonies in the Alumni Arena at the Sports Center at Armstrong.
Students from the college of liberal arts, the college of science and technology, the college of education and the college of health professions were recognized at the commencement. Senior members of the university faculty and administration conferred degrees upon graduates.
After the graduates entered the arena and took their seats, Armstrong President Linda M. Bleicken welcomed the students and their families to the ceremony.
“This is one of the happiest days in the life of our campus,” she said. “We are here today to celebrate the class of 2011. I’m pleased to extend to you my personal congratulations. This is an important achievement.”
Bleicken introduced Huckaby, who delivered his first commencement speech since becoming chancellor.
“It’s an honor to be here today,” he said. “Today, you step out of the comfort of Armstrong into a future that looks uncertain and maybe even a little dangerous. But it’s the business of the future to be uncertain and even dangerous.”
Huckaby touched on the current recession, which has reduced job opportunities for graduates across the country.
“In today’s economy, the path to your dream job is unlikely to be straight or smooth,” he said. “My advice is to take courage, be alert to opportunities and don’t be afraid to take detours. They can take you to places you didn’t have in mind, but that, in the end, turned out to be just right. It’s much easier to ‘connect the dots’ when you’re looking back than when you’re looking ahead.”
He also spoke about the growing importance of having a college degree in today’s economy, explaining that unemployment rates are lower for college graduates and that university grads are better able to realize their dreams in the rapidly changing global economy.
“Today, intellectual capital drives the economy,” Huckaby said. “Highly-skilled, high-paying jobs are locating where the workforce is available. I hope you’ve learned important skills at Armstrong that will be necessary in today’s global economy — to think critically, to meet new challenges, to be creative in problem solving, to adapt, anticipate and provoke change and to continue learning the rest of your life.”
The chancellor encouraged Armstrong graduates to use their education to serve a higher cause.
“Using your education to serve a cause greater than yourself is key to living a great life,” he advised. “We hope you’ve learned that the goal is not to have more, but to be more. I hope you don’t just live in the world, but that you will make it a better place.”
Armstrong graduate Julianna Chabot, who recently earned a bachelor’s in history, said she was thrilled to celebrate graduation with her family, who came to Savannah from Myakka City, Fla., to attend commencement.
“I made it,” she exclaimed. “I really had a great experience at Armstrong. I’m so proud to graduate today.”
Graduate Peter Griffin, a Glennville native who earned a bachelor’s degree in theater at Armstrong, plans to move to California to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. He also hopes to explore opportunities to produce, write and act.
“I’m excited about the future,” he said. “But I feel like I’m going to wake up in a few minutes and be late for science class!”