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Delta State University celebrated its 2011 fall commencement on campus Saturday, December 17, inside Walter Sillers Coliseum. Friends and family, along with Delta State faculty and staff, gathered to honor the accomplishments of 387 graduates.
On the day, one doctoral degree and 20 educational specialist degrees were conferred, while 154 master’s degrees and 212 bachelor’s degrees were awarded through the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, and the School of Nursing.
As has been the long-standing practice, the winner of the S.E. Kossman Outstanding Faculty Award delivers the fall commencement address. The 29th recipient of the honor, Dr. William A. “Billy” Morehead, associate professor of accountancy at Mississippi College who retired in June from Delta State as chair emeritus of the Division of Accountancy, encouraged graduates to takes risks, embrace challenges, and prepare for “the ride of your lives.”
“Today, I want to share a few personal thoughts with you regarding the places you’ll go,” said Morehead. “First, I believe we were all created for a purpose and you will have to discover yours. I believe there are three key items you should hang on to as you make your journey through life and discover your purpose: faith, passion and risk.”
Expounding on all three keys, Morehead went in depth on the final item – risk. “I believe you must have a willingness to take necessary risks to accomplish your goals. Risks include obtaining more education – a master’s degree or a doctorate; learning a second or third language; obtaining the right work experience; traveling, living or working abroad; having the willingness to do whatever work it takes to succeed, “ he said. “Sometimes you will have to take chances! I have…and what amazing opportunities I have experienced in my life…things I would have never imagined back in 1984 when I sat where you are sitting today.”
A certified public accountant, certified governmental financial manager, and certified public manager, Morehead lectures throughout the world on the subjects of fraud, internal controls, and ethics.
“I have had a full career in state government working for the State of Mississippi; I was even able to retire from the state this past June at the age of 48,” said Morehead. “I have conducted accounting training all over the world. I have had an AK 47 pointed at me and have been interrogated as part of my travels in West Africa…and, in March of this year, I survived two earthquakes and a tsunami. How you handle challenges such as these, change, and communication with family and others…will impact your success and your failure.”
Morehead noted the advancements in communication and the effects of new technology in today’s workforce and encouraged graduates to look at this as a time of great potential.
“Recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that today’s top 10 jobs did not exist in 2004 and, that you new college graduates, will have 10-14 jobs including 3-5 career changes by the time you are 38,” said Morehead. “So, what does all of this mean for you, graduates? It means that despite the tight job markets, these are exhilarating times filled with lots of possibilities for your future.”
In closing, Morehead stated, “I’m not sure how you want to lead and live your life…I cannot control that; I can only offer insight, influence, encouragement, and my opinion. One thing I do know; as for my life… it will not simply be a journey to my grave where I arrive peacefully, looking dapper, all dressed up in a nice suit, and a well preserved body! I plan to skid in sideways, my body totally worn out, smiling from ear to ear and hollering ‘woohoo, what a ride!’ Graduates, you are about to start the ride of your life. I hope you hang on tight and that you skid in sideways.”