Thursday, May 16, 2013
A proud father
It was a weekend filled with emotions.
Daughter Emma graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi Friday afternoon with a major in sociology and minors in psychology and criminal justice.
First and foremost, I was filled with pride when her name was called and she walked across the stage in Reed Green Coliseum.
I had tears of joy, and when I saw her walking back to her seat with that huge smile, I smiled, too, in the midst of the tears.
USM has been great for Emma, and I truly believe, she has been great for USM.
She poured herself into her university – including Southern Style, Student Senate, Alpha Delta Pi sorority and the list goes on and on. She excelled academically but she got involved through extracurricular activities, benefiting herself and the college.
To be honest, I was also filled with sadness – mainly realizing how fast the years have gone and wishing I had spent even more time over the years with my oldest daughter, as she was growing up.
As others received their diplomas, my mind went back to June 22, 1991, the day of Emma’s birth.
I looked over at Pam and said, “Those 22 years have flown by. Where did they go?”
The four years she has been at Southern Miss, I believe, have gone by quicker than any others.
It seems like yesterday that I was going with her to orientation and then later moving her into a dormitory on campus for the first time.
I prayed then that it was the right college choice for her.
Four years later, I know it was the best.
She went to a new place with all new people – a new beginning, so to speak. And she left her mark, thanks to her strong will to succeed, plus excellent administrators, great professors, good guidance from advisors and a long list of new friends.
Gov. Phil Bryant delivered the commencement address.
His talk hit home, too.
He urged the graduates to keep their priorities in order – faith, family and then self-interests.
Governor Bryant also encouraged them to exceed their expectations.
He talked about graduating from USM and getting a job as a deputy sheriff, which was then his number one goal – law enforcement.
But things changed. He wanted more.
He went on to be state auditor, lieutenant governor and now governor.
Governor Bryant also encouraged the young people to stay in Mississippi.
He talked about new industries locating in the state who need college graduates with high-tech skills – knowledge and expertise in many areas.
“We need you,” he said.
I also reminisced, in my own mind, last weekend to my own college graduation from the University of North Alabama. That was in May 1984.
That reminiscing was largely because my 82-year-old mother was with us in Hattiesburg for Emma’s graduation.
I thought about Mother’s sacrifices – making sure I earned a college degree.
Governor Bryant also told the graduates, “Hug your parents. Tell them thank you. Tell them you love them.”
It was a great family weekend for the Burlesons – filled with love and loads of fun.
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