TROY - Troy University alumnus and former commander of NORAD and the United States Northern Command Gen. Victor E. Renuart, Jr., challenged TROY graduates on Friday to approach their next steps with a positive outlook.
Speaking to more than 700 graduates representing 24 states and 14 nations, who took part in the Friday morning ceremony at Trojan Arena on the Troy Campus, Gen. Renuart said commencement marks a beginning rather than an end.
"You are all sitting here this morning thinking 'I'm finally finished'," he said. "However, commencement really isn't an ending but rather a beginning – a beginning of the next stage of your lives."
Gen. Renuart told graduates that a large part of their future success is determined by the attitude with which they choose to approach life.
"I'm an optimist. I actually believe that we play a huge part in our own successes and failures," he said. "We can choose to dwell on the negatives that impact our lives or we can choose to focus on the positives, building on those to achieve our future successes."
Gen. Renuart challenged graduates to be "doers" and to embrace change and the opportunities it provides.
"As you move onto the next stage of your life, you are going to once again find yourself as a beginner, one who needs to learn or be trained," he said. "However, even though you are just beginning there are roles that you play. You can be a team player, an encourager, but whatever you do, be a doer. We shouldn't fear change but rather embrace it and the opportunities it provides for us to learn and grow along the road to success."
In closing, Gen. Renuart encouraged graduates to hone their listening, communication and critical thinking skills.
"Think about the decisions you make and how they impact others," he said. "Understand that as you leave from here, you will encounter many opportunities and many challenges. I encourage you to embrace those, press forward until you find a way to address those challenges that come your way."
Friday's ceremony closed with the awarding of an honorary doctorate degree to Hou Baozhu, an international sculptor from Xian, China. Many of his works are prominently displayed on TROY's campuses in Alabama.