May 23, 2013 —
Dr. Dustin Swanger
Last Friday, we, at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, held our graduation ceremony. This year, FM will validate some 486 graduate candidates for the completion of their degree programs. Whether their degrees or certificates were in General Studies, Electrical Technology, Criminal Justice, Automotive Technology, Computer Science, Nursing, or one of many others, the graduates and their families have a lot of which to be proud. For many families, graduates of FM are “first generation” college graduates. That is, they are the first in their family to attend and/or complete a college degree. Bravo to them all!
During our ceremony there was a consistent theme; I spoke of it, and our keynote speaker, Dr. Tina Good, spoke of it. That theme is the responsibility of college graduates to give back to their communities. Dr. Good stated, very eloquently, “With reward there is risk; with knowledge comes responsibility.” Students spend time during their pursuit of a college degree not only learning their “major,” but also exploring other subject matter including humanities, social science, literature, writing, mathematics, political science, art, and other subject areas. This exploration has a purpose.
As I said to the graduates, and as I have written before on these pages, higher education is founded in preparing students for work, for citizenship, and for leadership. These foundations were established by the first “colleges” started in the Middle Ages by the clergy in Europe and they remain today. As a college, FM strives to prepare students for work, citizenship, and leadership through coursework and extra-curricular activities.
So what do I expect of our graduates? If Dr. Good is correct, and I believe that she is when she stated, “….with knowledge comes responsibility,” I expect our graduates to assume that responsibility in our community. There are many opportunities for our graduates to use their knowledge for the advancement of our society. Joining a not-for-profit organization, taking part in the political system, writing about issues in our community in a thoughtful manner, leading a youth group, or any number of activities is a way to involve themselves in our community and assume leadership positions.
Our community, like so many, is starved for leaders, particularly those who can look at issues from a number of view-points and to stand-up and be heard. We look for people who are willing to hold elected office, for those who are willing to lead organizations, and for those who can volunteer their time for the betterment of our region and its residents. I believe that our graduates are prepared for these challenges.
I have had the pleasure of working with several students this year, and in years past, who have taken on leadership roles as part of the Student Government Association (SGA). These students are bright, driven, interested in doing the right thing, and open to new ideas. Isn’t that what we need in our community leaders? I think so.
While some graduates might need time to feel prepared to get involved, I hope that they will take up the mantle soon. Start as a volunteer and learn. Then, prepare yourself to lead. I have tremendous confidence in your abilities. We need you.
Dr. Swanger is President of FM.