By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
I have always believed in the power and value of education. That is why I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who are graduating this month.
Whether you are finishing high school, a vocational program or a college degree, you should be proud of how hard you have worked and what you have accomplished!
Getting an education is a crucial step to achieving your other goals in life. As the saying goes: “Knowledge is power.” The more you learn, the more opportunities you will open for yourself. And there is no limit to where those opportunities can take you.
You might choose to continue your education or to enter the workforce. Either way, you are now better prepared for the journey ahead. But with knowledge and opportunities comes responsibilities. As it says in the Bible, “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”
Now more than ever, we need motivated individuals like you to become leaders in our communities. I am not just talking about political leaders, though we certainly need those too! But we need smart, talented leaders everywhere – from business to the church to politics and everything in between.
Though things are improving, our economy is still struggling to grow and create jobs. As the new generation of leaders, you are in a unique situation. This may be the time for some enterprising person to start that new small business or to develop some new innovation.
I encourage all of you to pursue your dreams. Because with hard work and a good education there is nothing you cannot do; no goal you cannot achieve.
You have devoted years of your life to your education. You have worked hard – you may have even worked two or three jobs to pay your way through school – and now that hard work has paid off. You should be proud! You have earned the right to sit back and enjoy this moment.
But when the celebrating is over and you turn your focus to what is next, remember what it took to get here: hard work and determination. Those values will benefit you no matter where life takes you next. Honesty, dependability and the quality of your work are three more characteristics that will take you far in business and in life.
So enjoy this moment of victory. You have spent so much time and effort to get here, and you deserve to enjoy it! But your journey is only just beginning. Take the lessons you have learned along the way and apply them to whatever is next for you. Continue to work hard and stay focused and there is nothing you cannot achieve.
Congratulations, graduates! And good luck!
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.