University of Mississippi
OXFORD – Gov. Phil Bryant warned the University of Mississippi’s 2014 graduating class that they will weather some challenges in their post-college years and they must carry on like Mississippi has during hard times throughout its history.
Bryant gave UM’s commencement address in the Grove, as more than 10,000 students and their families gathered under sunny skies. That number includes nearly 4,500 applicants for undergraduate and graduate degrees from August and December 2013 and the 2014 spring semester. The governor’s talk came less than two weeks after 18 damaging tornados struck the state, killing 14 people and inflicting more than $100 million in property damage.
The state’s response to disasters over the years is a good lesson about the perseverance of the human spirit during the darkest of times, he said. The governor noted that Mississippi has had many rough periods to overcome, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which is the most destructive natural disaster in American history, as well as the Civil War, the Great Depression, segregation and other struggles. But the state has moved forward each time.
“Mississippians are a tough, determined people,” Bryant said. “The storms of the dark days of segregation blew hard against this state, one citizen against another. We’ve come through that storm because we’ve realized that as the storms are part of life, there is a beautiful day ahead and the sun shines through. It will now. It will evermore.”
He quoted poet William Butler Yeats, who said, “Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.”
Bryant challenged graduates to prepare themselves for the storms of life and know they will have to persevere.
“We have been blind at times in our beloved Mississippi,” he said. “Now, we see a wonderful and bright future that lies ahead for us all. After Katrina, after Yazoo County (tornadoes), after April 28, we could have stayed down, but we simply chose to rise. With your help and dedication, we will continue to rise together.”
Chancellor Dan Jones thanked the governor for working with him and Ole Miss.
“All of us can learn from Governor Bryant’s example of a collaborative spirit,” Jones said. “I encourage you to listen and carefully consider how you, too, can help make this state, this country and the world a better place for all people.”