Editor’s note: Story info submitted by the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
Dr. Marta Loyd outlined three responsibilities for recent University of Arkansas at Fort Smith graduates: celebrate your family’s first college graduate, do the right things for the right reasons, and pay it forward.
Loyd, who served as the vice chancellor for advancement at UAFS before becoming executive director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute last year, spoke to graduates and more than 3,000 people gathered Thursday (Dec. 10) at the Stubblefield Center for the ceremony.
She recounted the story of a farmer who remained in Oklahoma during the Depression and Dust Bowl era, accruing land as other farmers migrated for other jobs. When the economy eventually improved, the farmer enjoyed several hundred acres of land and used the opportunity to expand his business and raise enough money to send his son to college. The son eventually graduated from medical school and became a doctor.
“I never had the opportunity to know the farmer who made all those sacrifices…because he died when I was two years old,” Loyd said. “But I know his son because he is my dad … Since one man was willing to put forth the effort to be the first in his family to earn a college degree, every child and grandchild since that time has had a chance for a college education.”
Loyd outlined a second responsibility for graduates – do the right thing for the right reasons – by reminding students that it takes more than a college degree to guarantee post-graduate success. Instead, it’s how the students apply that education that will determine success.
“Some of this application will be obvious and not that difficult. … But some of this application won’t be quite as obvious and at times will be outright difficult,” Loyd said. “For these occasions, I urge you to fall back on doing what you know to be the right things for the right reasons, because I have no doubt you will always know what those are.”
Loyd concluded her remarks with a final responsibility she bestowed upon graduates: pay it forward.
“Recognize that because you have had the opportunity to go to college, you can encourage and make it possible for others to do the same,” Loyd said. “Each of you will get busy and overwhelmed in your daily work life. … But the ones of us that can keep a focus on who we are impacting and how we are impacting them, both now and in the future, will end up leaving legacies that last far longer than the ones of us that simply accumulate the most money or the most clients and customers.”
Dr. Paul Beran, UAFS chancellor, also spoke at the ceremony, where he told students that earning a college degree marked the beginning of a lifetime of learning.
“New knowledge is being created at the speed of light today. Some of you already know this fact. If you don’t know this now, buckle up for the ride,” he said.
The ceremony awarded more than 450 bachelor’s and associate degrees and technical certificates to students completing graduation requirements during the fall semester and second summer term.