Alabama Senator Addresses Snead State Community College Graduates at Spring Commencement Ceremony


The annual Spring Commencement Ceremonies at Snead State Community College brought students, faculty and staff, family and special guests together to share in the successes and accomplishments of the 2017 graduating class. Of the 311 graduates this spring, approximately 274 students participated in the ceremonies held Thursday, May 4, in the Plunkett Wallace Gymnasium.

Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley asked the graduates to consider the humble beginnings by American botanist and inventor George Washington Carver, whom the College President described as someone who also “easily fits the mold of a Snead State Parson.”

Born into slavery in Missouri in 1864, Carver was too weak to work in the fields but discovered a love for plants. He walked 10 miles several times a week to attend school in Kansas, and he left home at the young age of 13 to continue his education. He became the first black student enrolled at Simpson College in Iowa, where one of his instructors, Etta Budd, encouraged him to apply to Iowa State Agricultural School, which is now Iowa State University, to study botany. He became Iowa State’s first African American student to earn his Bachelor’s degree. He was asked to remain part of the faculty as his worked on his Master’s degree. His journey led him to join the faculty of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama at the special invitation of Booker T. Washington. 

“We never know where our true calling in life will be found, but you can rest assured that education, compassion, and hard work will always be prerequisites for fulfillment,” said Dr. Exley. “I commend each of you for your accomplishments, and I ask you to carefully consider George Washington Carver’s own words as you continue your journey beyond Snead State and realize your calling. He once said, ‘There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation – veneer isn’t worth anything.”

Alabama State Senator Clay Scofield (R-Arab) served as the Commencement Guest Speaker. In addition to his role in the Senate, Scofield serves on Snead State’s Foundation Board of Directors.

“You are about to graduate from one of the best institutions we have in our community. You are a part of this historic institution here at home,” Scofield said.

A graduate of Auburn University, the Senator shared with the graduates how he always knew what he wanted to do with his life – return home, build chicken houses and work with his family. A couple of years after his college graduation, he did build the chicken houses and couldn’t wait to make money. 

“Something was missing,” he said. “Six short months later, I realized I wanted more. I built more chicken houses, but I still wanted more. I opened a construction firm, but I still felt like something was missing.

“Our state senator was retiring. I was always interested in politics, so I ran for the Senate. I wound up winning, and I found my mission in life. What was missing was service – paying my civic dues.”

Scofield encouraged the graduates to pursue opportunities to help others, either through public service as he did or through volunteering with the many quality organizations available. He also told them to strive in all they do to maintain their integrity.

“Integrity is everything. You’ll have wins and losses, but if you have integrity, you can lay your head down at night and sleep peacefully. Character is the one thing no one can take from you. Be a good person in whatever you do and wherever you go,” he said. 

The evening was a time for honoring success and achievement for faculty, staff and students. Members of the faculty and staff were recognized for earning the NISOD Award of Excellence and/or the League of Innovation Excellence Award, demonstrating their leadership and commitment to success. 

Some of the graduates were also recognized as award recipients. 

Bailey Morton of Altoona received the Civitan Best All-Around Student Award.  The Civitan Award is presented annually to the Best All-Around Student of the graduating class. To be eligible for this award, the student must have attended Snead State Community College for at least three semesters and attained a minimum cumulative academic average of 3.0 on a four-point scale.  In addition, the student should have participated in extracurricular and community activities. The student is elected by a vote of the faculty from a list of eligible graduates who are participating in the graduation ceremonies.

Dylan Shadinger of Albertville was awarded the James B. Allen Award presented annually to the Outstanding Student of the graduating class.  This award is a gift of the late James B. Allen, United States Senator from Alabama. To be eligible for this award, the student must have exhibited outstanding qualities of leadership and service, attained a minimum cumulative academic average of 3.5, and attended Snead State Community College for at least three semesters. The student is elected by a vote of the faculty from a list of eligible graduates who are participating in the graduation ceremonies.

Both Shadinger and Morton were also recognized as this year’s members of the All-Alabama Academic Team. The All-Alabama Scholarship program is a complement to the All-USA National Academic Team Program, which is sponsored by USA Today, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the American Association of Community Colleges. 

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