Cloudy skies didn't darken the mood of graduates at Slippery Rock University's May 12 commencement.

Gray clouds passed over the athletic field at Slippery Rock University on May 12 as graduating seniors and their families and friends awaited the start of commencement.

One father in the stands used technology to keep an eye on the weather, constantly checking his PDA, while others used cell phones to communicate their locations in the stands.

The weather held for the outdoor ceremony, though. The air was warm and the atmosphere high with excitement as more than 1,200 university graduates milled nervously around the east side of N. Kerr Thompson Stadium.

During commencement, students heard words of wisdom from SRU alumna Dr. Martha A. Smith. Smith is president of Anne Arundel Community College, where she has served since 1994.

A 1970 SRU graduate, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry. She attended the University of Hawaii with an assistantship in chemistry and learned that she really loved teaching. Smith changed her major from chemistry to education, earning a master of education degree in educational psychology there. She went to the University of Northern Colorado where she became a doctor of philosophy in higher education administration.

After reminiscing about her days at Slippery Rock, Smith told the students to “Get a Life.” Using her personal experience of changing goals from becoming a research chemist to becoming a college administrator, she challenged the graduates to be open to opportunities, to be open to options and to be open to their hearts.

College graduates are naturally super achievers who make things happen, she said, challenging the graduates to continue achieving.

She added that the graduates should also:

´´ Be committed to knowing themselves.

´´ Continue self-discovery.

´´ Stand for something.

´´ Give back. Contribute to society but know that sometimes it is good to say “no” and take care of themselves.

´´ Hold fast to their dreams. Dreams will motivate them.

´´ Experience dark moments. Share them with loved ones, even as the students share the positive experience of graduation with them.

´´ Notice things around them. Ideas are connected to the “big picture.”

Smith challenged the students to “Get a Life.” She used her own experiences as an example:

When Smith decided to change her major during her master’s program, she feared telling her mother during their next weekly phone call.

Her mother’s response?

“I wondered how long it would take.”

Smith encouraged the students to find the careers they enjoy. As in her case, she told the students not to be afraid to grab opportunities that may change the direction of their lives.

President Robert M. Smith conferred the degrees, and the diplomas were presented by the deans of the various colleges of the university.

Nine members of the Slippery Rock Army ROTC also received their commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

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