First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - Fay-etteville State University Chancellor T.J. Bryan told the 2007 graduates at Robeson Community College that she knew what a lot of them had gone through to reach Thursday night's commencement ceremony.
Bryan said her parents never finished high school and didn't have the money to send her to college, so she worked full time and went to school full time.
“Life was far from easy, but I appreciated my education even more because I had to work so hard to achieve it,” she said.
A native of Baltimore, Bryan earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in English. Bryan became chancellor of FSU in 2003 after serving as vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
“My younger sister is a chancellor,” she said. “What are the chances of that, that two women … children of parents with no education would be the chancellors of institutions of higher learning? It suggests the boundless possibilities for all of us.”
Bryan then urged the 175 graduates to discover their own possibilities.
“Discover your own mission, your destiny … the thing that you were put on this planet to do,” she said. “I felt my mission was to help students like myself. But whatever path you take, don't give up on discovery. Education is about learning who we are, what we want and why we are here.”
More than 300 friends and family members jammed the A.D. Lewis Auditorium on the RCC campus to hear Bryan and cheer on the graduating students.
Of those graduating, 147 received associate degrees, and 28 received diplomas in programs such as cosmetology and electronics.
Thirty-four students graduated with honors, which means they finished with a 3.5-grade-point average or better. Ten of the honor students were members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“This is a happy day for you and a happy day for us,” said George Regan, chairman of the RCC board of trustees. This is a big step you are taking to improve your life and the lives of your family. I hope this is the first of many such steps.”