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Huston-Tillotson University Celebrates Its Largest Graduating Class

(Austin, Texas) 5.25.12 —The Huston-Tillotson University 2011-2012 academic year culminated with the conferring of degrees during Commencement Convocation held Saturday, May 5, 2012, for the largest graduating class   under President Larry L. Earvin’s administration.

More than 2,500 family members and friends patiently endured the sun’s rays in the early morning outdoor ceremony full of pomp and circumstance for the 130 members of the Class of 2012 that also included two honorary degree recipients. Terry S. Smith and James R. Wilson both received the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Alumni from around the country converged on Austin for four days of activities around Reunion Weekend 2012.  A golf tournament, formal affair, business meetings, worship service, and campus picnic awaited the hundreds that returned to their alma mater. Alumnus David Godsey rendered the keynote address during Honors Convocation held on Friday.

Godsey centered his comments around the “Moving Fast in Times of Excellence” theme.  He shared that while everyone has 24-hours in each day, it’s what one does with the time that makes a difference.  He recalled his “proper preparation prevents poor performance” lessons from his fraternity days that he lives by today.  Godsey recounted his academic failures before sharing how he grew his law firm into the largest African American owned personal injury law firm in the State of Texas. “When you fight through the adversity, you put yourself in a position where you know you will be rewarded,” he noted.

Godsey also stressed the importance of modeling ethical behavior as well as incorporating a healthy lifestyle into each day. He also conveyed his pride in the honor students; a sentiment that continued Saturday during the commencement address by Philip Berber.

Berber founded a series of start-ups during a 20-year entrepreneurial journey that led to the establishment of his current venture.  He sold his Internet brokerage company CyBerCorp to Charles Schwab in 2000 to form, along with his wife Donna, A Glimmer of Hope.  The social vendor and non-governmental organization (NGO) helps lift women and children out of extreme poverty in Ethiopia. To date, A Glimmer of Hope has helped to impact more than 2.5 million lives in rural Ethiopia by constructing more than 4,000 water projects, 335 school buildings and 170 health facilities, and distributed more than 17,000 micro-finance loans.

He recounted his failures and blessings that moved him into his current position that provided the background of his “Future Favors the Bold” message with three key points of encouragement: “Life is full of challenges and set backs…but it’s how you respond to them that will make all of the difference; do what you love and love what you do; and be in service to others, and, so you will be in service to yourself.” He compared his challenges and lessons learned to those of graduates Jacquetta Thayer, Rodney Childers, and Tyrus Smith who found their passions after years of grappling with their decisions and the decisions of others. “Keep believing in yourself.  Never give up on yourself, and  never, never, ever give up on your dreams,” he stated.

Berber also recalled the words of the late Steve Jobs, co founder of now Apple Inc., who encouraged graduates to love what they do. “Being engaged in a purposeful, meaningful way will fill your heart and sometimes, more than you know, will touch, or inspire, or help someone along their path,” Berber said.