Graduates told to learn respect for the word 'no'

May 26, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

Saying "no" at the right times can make "yes" mean more, entrepreneur and philanthropist James P. Ryan told 65 Carroll Community College graduates at the school's first commencement exercises last night.

"I learned to respect the word 'no.' I saw the positive in the word 'no,' " said Mr. Ryan, founder of the Ryland Group, builder of Ryland Homes and now a pastoral and career counselor at Loyola College.

He also founded the Ryan Family Foundation, which distributes money to nonprofit agencies and trains its staff in management.

"Be selective in the things you say yes to, and learn the difference between commitment and compliance," Mr. Ryan said.

The black-robed graduates who participated in the ceremony are among 169 who received associate of arts degrees this month.

Although Carroll held a commencement ceremony last year, this is the first time it has done so as an independent college, rather than a branch of Catonsville Community College.

Because the fledgling college still has no gym or auditorium, the commencement was held in the Western Maryland College gym.

Mr. Ryan told students to choose their commitments carefully and to make them mean something.

"When I was growing up, the right word was 'yes.' I would say yes, and people would say, 'You're my kind of man,' " Mr. Ryan said.

But he said people who say yes too often take on more than they can do well.

Mr. Ryan added that graduates should distinguish their strengths from their "shoulds," the things people tell them they should do.

"There's a saying: Don't let anyone 'should' on you,' " he said. "Run with your strengths."

At the ceremony, the board of trustees gave the College Medal to four members of the community for their support of higher education: Janet Neslen, a physician who is Carroll County's health officer and a member of the college's advisory board; C. Wray Mowbray, a former college administrator and banker who served on the advisory board; and Donald Smith, a retired Department of Defense engineer, and his wife, Marie Smith, a retired home economics teacher, who donated a scholarship endowment this year.

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