Harper urges MSU grads to plan carefully, avoid debt

By Miss. State Media Relations

STARKVILLE – Third District Rep. Gregg Harper told Mississippi State University graduates Friday night that careful planning and avoiding financial pitfalls are important steps to turning a successful education into a successful future.

The first-term Republican from Pearl was the university’s featured speaker for the weekend’s sole commencement ceremony. Though not all chose to participate in the Humphrey Coliseum program, some 1,200 students received degrees at fall semester’s conclusion.

“You are extremely fortunate to be a graduate of Mississippi State University,” Harper said. “Mississippi State is one of the finest and most respected universities in the country. The research and development work here is second to none. You will make more money and be more successful over the life of your career if you maintain your network of friends and stay involved with its alumni groups.”

“Greatness does not just happen,” Harper added. “Leaders plan ahead.”

Citing the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, he drew a modern-day analogy: “It teaches about identifying a project, setting forth a plan, enlisting the help of authorities, receiving the cooperation of your friends, obtaining the resources, dealing with naysayers and adversaries, dividing your strength between offense and defense, and completing the job.”

The congressman further encouraged graduates to avoid the financial pitfalls of indebtedness and embrace a more financially responsible attitude.

“I always tell young people to live within their means and not to spend money they don’t have,” he said. “Do not use credit cards unless you know you are paying it off on the next statement,” he urged graduates. “Please, start out by saving some, giving some to your church or a charity, and don’t go in debt.”

In January, Harper succeeded fellow GOP member Chip Pickering in representing a Central Mississippi district that stretches from Wilkinson County in the southwest to Oktibbeha County in the northeast.

An attorney, Harper was a prosecuting attorney for the cities of Brandon and Richland before his election to Congress, where he now is the only freshman serving on the Committee on House Administration. He also is a member of the Judiciary and Budget committees, among others.

To conclude, Harper quoted from the Declaration of Independence, reminding graduates that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”

“These are God-given rights, and the Declaration of Independence promises opportunity,” he said, emphasizing that “with this opportunity comes responsibility.

“Do not be afraid to take risks and use the common sense that has been given to you,” he challenged them. “If you want your country to be better, then you be better. You will play a part in what it becomes.”