Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Friday encouraged Troy University graduates to apply their knowledge and skill to make a difference in their communities.
Speaking to nearly 650 students taking part in Friday's spring commencement ceremony in Trojan Arena, Gov. Bentley told graduates they were embarking on a "new journey."
"This is a great accomplishment to receive your diploma after years of hard work," he said. "Now, you enter the next phase of your life, the next challenge, the next opportunity. No matter where you go from here, you have the chance and you can make the choice to be what I like to call a servant leader."
Gov. Bentley said true leadership includes remaining true to one's values and core principles.
"In order to be a leader, you must be a follower," he said. "Not a follower of other people, but rather a follower of principles. The most effective leaders adhere to a core set of values that shape every decision they make. Such values include keeping your word and the willingness to make difficult decisions, even if you know those decisions might be unpopular."
Gov. Bentley told graduates that they emerge with their diplomas in some very challenging times.
"Our nation and our state face unique and difficult circumstances. We have the hope of a brighter future, but we know that some difficult times still lie ahead," he said. "As you go forward from here, I want to encourage you to stand strong, to adhere to your values and to assume the role of a servant leader."
The spring graduating class included some 915 students who filed intents to graduate, including some 825 from the Troy Campus alone. Students participating in Friday's ceremony represented 27 states and 14 countries.
Following the awarding of diplomas, Gov. Bentley was presented with an honorary doctorate by TROY Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr. and Gerald O. Dial, President Pro Tem of the University's Board of Trustees.