2015 President's Scholar - Nadine Epperson
Nadine Epperson was the 2015 President’s Scholar and spoke at the Middle Georgia State College commencement
ceremonies held on Thursday, May 14. These are the remarks she prepared for delivery.
I want to open with the words of a well-known author, one with whom I am sure you are all familiar: Dr. Seuss.
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the ones who'll decide where to go.”
Today is your day. All of these friends and family members surrounding us are here to celebrate us, and what we have accomplished at Middle Georgia State. But, today is also a terrifying day. Since we started school as children, the next step in life has always been clearly marked for us. We were students in elementary through high school, then at some point we ended up in college. In college we had course catalogs and advisors to tell us how to get a degree, and a syllabus in each class to tell us exactly how to pass that class to get that degree so we can get started on our future. Now, we have arrived at that future, and there is no course catalog, no advisors, and no class syllabus to tell us how to succeed. As Dr. Seuss said, “You are the one who’ll decide where to go.” This is both liberating and daunting.
Your mom, your best friend, and every motivational meme you’ve ever seen told you that you can do anything you want to do. I believe we can only do the things we want to do when we’re not afraid to do the things that we don’t want to do.
There are a lot of things we don’t want to do, but when we get down to the core of things, most of us really don’t want to fail. We don’t want to fail, and we don’t want to be alone. Yet, anyone who has met with success—including Dr. Seuss in his famous “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”—will tell us that this is to be expected, no matter how we start our journey.
There are going to be great moments in life and plenty of not-so-great moments. This is a great one.
When I graduated high school in 2010, what was then Macon State College was not my first choice. I wanted to leave home, but the Lord had a different plan for me. His will for my life blessed me in ways that I could not imagine at 17.
I chose to go to Middle Georgia State because it was close to home and inexpensive, but God’s provision through this school blessed me with wonderful community and experiences. My years at Middle Georgia State College contained some of my best moments. This school allowed me to explore my capabilities and put them to use not only academically, but also through extracurricular activities like the student newspaper.
In a school with roughly 8,000 students, my professors and faculty advisors made me feel like I was important. My contributions meant something to them, and they were invested in my future.
Middle Georgia State prepared us for success, but they also prepared us to handle failure. As Dr. Seuss says:
“Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, youon't.
I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
can happen to you.”
Our school promised an opportunity for a future, and delivered, but there is no guarantee against failure. If anything, we are guaranteed to fail at some point.
We’ve all experienced failure at some point already as a student. We have all failed a test because we didn’t read the directions or missed class because we slept too late, struggled to navigate D2L for assignments and missed one, had illness or family issues that threatened to derail us Failure happens, even when you study.
Dr. Seuss has one last piece of wisdom to share with us as we venture out:
I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.
But on you will go
On and on you will hike,
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
The unfortunate fact is that we are going to be alone sometimes. It’s part of life, and it’s something we should expect. I hope for all of you, though, that those times are few and far between.
We are surrounded by people who are here to celebrate and support us. Today, I am celebrated by my incredibly intelligent and wise parents who dedicated their time and resources to homeschooling my sister and me all the way through high school. To them, I am thankful for laying a solid foundation that I was able to build upon at Middle Georgia State.
My sister, Eilene, who is also graduating today, has been my partner and rock through everything and I owe so much of who I am to her constant encouragement and example. The Lord provided me with a strong support system in my friends and family and also in my classmates and professors.
The people who are here with us today are probably the ones who will be with us, no matter what happens to us. They have been by our sides throughout our college years, and they will stand with us as we venture out on our own.
We will fail, and we will be alone, but let us not be afraid. The world may be a scary place, but we can’t let that keep us from changing it. Instead, let any failure or loneliness we experience give us humility and a healthy respect for one another as we go through this together. On and on we will hike, and we will hike far.
Middle Georgia welcomed us in with open arms, and I have been blessed by countless individuals at this school. Dr. Keith, Dr. Cantwell, Professor Ward, Dr. Rigole, and many others have made a profound difference in my life. My experience as Editor in Chief of the student newspaper allowed me the opportunity to gain leadership experience, meet incredible people, and learn skills that are already proving their value in my professional life. I can summarize my experience by saying I am proud to be a graduate of Middle Georgia State College.
I don’t know if you realize this, but today is not just an auspicious occasion for us, it is also an auspicious occasion for this school. Today marks the end of our time as students and the beginning of our future as professionals and alumni, contributing to the world we live in. As we graduate from students to professionals, Middle Georgia State is graduating from a college to a university this summer. Years from now, when we look back, we can take pride in having helped build a public university in Middle Georgia—something vital to the region we call home.
This is no ordinary graduating class. There has never been a class like us, and there will never be again. We are the final graduating class of Middle Georgia State College. Congratulations class of 2015! Let’s continue to stand for greatness as we start this new chapter in our lives.