"It wasn't so long ago that I was a student myself," says Kathleen Koch, the USM Commencement speaker.
USM Alum turned CNN reporter, Kathleen Koch recalls a time when she was sitting on the other side of the podium. Now after several recovery reports about the coast, this journalist has a new story to tell.
"It's not how much money you make, how much property you own, how much power you have, it's the difference you make in the world," says Koch. "Some of the lessons that I have learned along the way: not letting anyone else define you, telling you what you can and can't do. If you have a dream, something you want, go for it."
Go for it. It's a lesson of courage and determination...a lesson that will push these graduates until very end.
"We're still on a journey. We never stop learning. That's a wonderful, powerful statement for anyone to make and for anyone to absorb," says Carolyn Monroe, graduate.
Carolyn Monroe began her college education in 19 66. After several moves across the country, this mother...and now graduate of USM says 'this' is only the beginning.
"I knew that when I started this journey that I could complete it, and I wanted to do that," says Monroe.
The journey is a similar one for Demetrius Drakeford. The Moss Point Police Chief says quitting was never an option.
"I never wanted to give up. I always knew this day would come. I was very self-motivated," says Drakeford.
Motivation that this speaker, neighbor and voice of the Gulf Coast says everyone needs to be thankful for.
"Life is short and everything we know and love can be gone in an instant. So we really have to cherish the people in our lives. Live everyday to its fullest. Don't live in some future that may never come," says Koch.
There were 290 graduates at today's ceremony.