TROY - U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio challenged graduates at Troy University’s summer commencement to engage in the country and be productive during his keynote address from Washington, D.C.
Johnson, originally scheduled to speak in person, was delayed at the U.S. Capitol for pending legislation, but spoke to the nearly 500 participants via a taped address from his office.
"When you take your cap and gown off today, put on your work clothes, put on your work books," he challenged graduates. "The American Dream is still alive and well if you are willing to work for it."
Johnson, first elected to represent Ohio’s sixth district in 2010, is a 1979 summa cum laud graduate of TROY with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information systems. He served in the U.S. Air Force for some 26 years and continued in a number of leadership roles in the information technology field before winning the first of four terms in Congress.
He credited the Air Force as his motivating factor in becoming a Trojan, thanks to his education officer who pointed him toward TROY.
"It’s been a long road from the basement apartment in married student housing in 1978," he told graduates. "My fears of rigorous academics - math and science in particular - were overcome and the faculty helped me transfer the strong work ethic I learned in the Air Force into the classroom. The faculty helped a boy become a man."
Johnson said the strength of America was in the heartbeat of its people and "the indomitable spirit of the American people."
"America needs you. We want you to get a good job and be successful, but there is much more," he said. "With great opportunity comes great responsibility... take the reins of leadership and begin to write that next, great chapter in American history."