By Itawamba Community College
FULTON – Dr. Jim Pate, dean of the University of Mississippi Tupelo campus, took Itawamba Community College’s Associate of Arts graduates on a journey during the 63rd commencement ceremony at the Fulton campus Saturday.
Pate, who is a first-generation college graduate like many of those who participated in the ceremony, said that 51 years ago he sat in a folding chair in another building on the Itawamba Junior College campus and received his associate of arts degree.
Born in the “suburbs of Tremont, I took a circuitous route to get here. My family participated in the hillbilly exodus to Illinois. I graduated from high school there and left in late August 1960 to begin classes at IJC,” Pate said.
Pate provided four life lessons for the road.
“Lesson number one, remember where you come from,” Pate said. “Don’t forget your roots.” He cited the story of his maternal grandfather and his mother, who both practiced tough love and in the process didn’t know the word, quit. He paused for members of the class of 2013 to applaud for their families who have supported them on their journeys.
“Lesson number two, don’t ever stop learning. Approximately 30 percent of all Americans have earned a college degree, but less than 20 percent of Mississippians,” Pate said. “Lesson number three, do what you love. Don’t be afraid to fail. Always trust your heart and intuition. Lesson number four, make a difference.
“You have reached an important milestone in your journey. You started in a good place, at ICC; you can be proud of it.”
More than 500 graduates participated in the associate’s degree ceremonies at the Davis Event Center.