Marshall Space Flight Center Director Addresses Snead State 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 2018 graduating class. Of the approximate 277 graduates this spring, about 230 students participated in the ceremonies held Thursday, May 10, in the Plunkett Wallace Gymnasium.

In addressing the graduates, Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley shared lyrics from a song entitled “Whatever It Takes,” to which he was introduced during the 2018 Nursing Pinning Ceremony.

“(The lyrics) capture the essence of why each of you are here at Commencement: ‘I do whatever it takes, ‘cause I love how it feels when I break the chains.’ Each of us experience the chains for circumstance, doubt, uncertainty, and even a lack of confidence at times. And when we do, perhaps when starting college or staying in college or completing that next degree, remember this night and ‘do whatever it takes,’” Dr. Exley said.

Dr. Exley introduced the Commencement speaker, Mr. Todd May, the Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, who also participated in Leadership Alabama with the College President.

“To you, students, congratulations. You made it. This is a big deal. Whether you sprinted across the finish line or were dragged across, this is a big deal…Now comes the hard part. There’s always a bigger milestone over the horizon. You all know graduation means moving on to a bigger challenge whether it’s following your education or getting a job or both.

“You can’t let expectations become the primary mover of your future. Too often people allow themselves to operate under the tyranny of expectations. Too often we allow our choices to be determined by what is perceived to be expectations. Having a sense of freedom from expectations will give you a sense of freedom to pursue the opportunities that come your way,” said Mr. May.

He continued by using the words of the late President John F. Kennedy. 

“Let me inspire you to action with someone else’s words. In 1962, John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University. He said, ‘We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win…’ 

“His message was about purpose. When you walk out that door today, don’t be afraid to be bold. Whatever the ultimate goal is be sure the benefits extend beyond just yourself. 
Make sure ambition doesn’t become recklessness. Go big but go big with a plan,” Mr. May said.

The evening was a time for honoring success and achievement for faculty, staff and students. Some of the graduates were also recognized as award recipients. 

Lexie Blackstone of Albertville 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.

Joy Grace Webb 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 Miss Webb and Miss Blackstone 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. 

Dr. Exley also recognized the individuals among the faculty and staff who wore the medallions signifying they are recipients of the League for Innovation in Community College’s John E. and Suanne D. Roueche Excellence Award or the recipients of the University of Texas at Austin’s NISOD Excellence Award. These awards were created to specifically celebrate outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty and staff.

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