Aggressively pursue your education, but take time to appreciate life.
That's the message a number of speakers delivered to nearly 350 students who received their degrees from Howard Community College yesterday during a ceremony at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.
"If we make time to cherish and enjoy our family and friends... we will find the journey even more enjoyable," said commencement speaker H. Mebane Turner, president of the University of Baltimore, who is due to retire within a month.
All of the speakers lauded the accomplishments of the graduates and urged them to continue their pursuing education and using it for advancement.
"Keep on studying," said County Executive James N. Robey. "There could well be a chief of police, the next county executive ... out there."
But others also advised the graduates to take time to smell the roses. Turner told the crowd that he continued to take courses while he searched for his life's calling as an educator.
"I was lucky. I kept up my studies," he told them.
Turner, who has been president at the University of Baltimore for nearly 33 years, said he sees many students working two jobs and juggling family responsibilities while they also study.
So many responsibilities could wear students down, he said.
"Make sure you treasure your family and friends," he advised. "We only make this journey one time."
Turner's message was reflected in the accomplishments of Leesa M. Radia, an honors student who graduated with a degree in general studies.
Radia was one of two students chosen to address the audience.
A 41-year-old Laurel resident, Radia has been working to earn a college degree for 23 years.
Radia struggled to take classes while she balanced a job in the food service industry with caring for her two children. She said she made more rapid progress when she reduced her job hours to spend more time with her family and on studies.
"I wanted to help my son [who is 12] make the adjustment to middle school," she told the audience.
Radia will enroll in the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the fall to pursue a degree in American Studies. She will be a part-time student so she can spend time at home and on other interests.
Radia plans on graduating in four or five years but laughed: "I'll go as long as it takes [to get a degree]."