Bishop State Community College’s 2018 Spring Graduation is certainly one for the books! This year more than 600 students graduated from the College with their degrees and certificates. 330 students chose to celebrate their accomplishments with thousands of others and walked during the commencement exercises.
For the first time Bishop State’s graduation was held at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center. It’s usually held at the Mobile Civic Center. More than 2400 seats set out for the event, but before the ceremony even began there was standing room only remaining.
This year’s graduates had the honor of hearing Dr. Jill Biden, former Second Lady of the United States, deliver the commencement speech. Dr. Biden is a lifelong educator who has spent more than three decades teaching in community colleges. She even taught while serving as Second Lady.
As she congratulated the class of 2018, Dr. Biden agreed with Bishop State’s President Dr. Reginald Sykes that Bishop State is a college of infinite possibilities.
Dr. Biden told the audience, “Bishop is creating possibilities in Mobile and it is a community college in the truest sense. It serves and it strengthens and it lifts up this community.”
During her commencement address, Dr. Biden proved she could relate with just about everyone in the crowd. She understood the struggle each student went through to get to graduation day. As a former student herself, Dr. Biden took 15 years to complete her education from bachelors to a doctorate – all while working and raising a family. She knows what it’s like to have kids who are not only proud of their parents’ achievements but also looks up to them as a role model. As a mother of three graduates, she understands the beaming pride of each family for their graduate’s accomplishments. As a community college professor, she knows what it’s like to watch students grow and learn and see their will and determination strengthen while cheering them on.
Dr. Biden told the graduates that while everyone may have taken a different path to get to graduation, somewhere along the way things probably got difficult. She commended all graduates for pushing through. She commended the parent paying for tuition and childcare expenses, the full-time employee waking up at 5am, the commuter who has to take two buses to get to class, the student who faces anxiety or learning challenges, the person adjusting to life as a civilian after a tour overseas, and those who took a lot longer than expected to complete their education because life just got in the way.
“Whoever you are, know this: if you can walk across this stage, you can do anything!” Dr. Biden told the students.
Dr. Biden encouraged the Bishop State graduates as they prepare to take on the next chapter of their lives. “You will take on whatever is to come with that same courage, commitment and the guts that got you here today. So don’t forget, you’ve got this!”
To wrap up her address, Dr. Biden quoted writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin who wrote, “The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.” Dr. Biden told Bishop State’s newest alumni, “Your hard work, Graduates, has paid off. And you know what? The world is before you. Go change it for good. We’re behind you – all of us – every step of the way! Congratulations!”