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'It's better because you were there:' Brett Guthrie gives speech at SKyCTC commencement

By JACKSON FRENCH jfrench@bgdailynews.com

Photos by Bac Totrung - BG Daily News

graduates in cap and gown standingRep Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, took the stage in the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center and gave advice to 581 graduates of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College.

 

Make yourself important to your employer, wherever you go, but don't be self-important, he said.

 

This This was the first of three lessons he imparted on the graduates. Wisdom that I learned from hard knocks, he said.

 

As his second lesson, Guthrie urged the graduates to set high standards as leaders.

 

They're begging for people to hire and they're begging for people to rise to leadership," he said. "There's a shortage in this country of that.

 

To drive this point home, he told the story of former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, who, in 1988, caught his two best players breaking team rules and sent them home before a game against the University of Southern California where the winner would go on to the national championship.

 

After the game, which Notre Dame won, when asked if removing his two best players was a difficult decision, he said, 'I didn't make the decision. I enforced it. They made their decision. I enforced their decision,'" Guthrie said.

 

He told the graduates to set high standards in their careers. "You're going to be leaders," he said. "You're

Femal graduate in cap and gown with diploma
Warren Central High School senior Morgan Askins laughs Friday,
May 6, 2016, during Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical
College spring commencement at SKyPAC. After taking dual credit
courses, Askins earned an Associates in Science degree and will
graduate from Warren Central in June. (BAC Totrung/photo@bgdailynews.com)

going to have people that work for you. Set them fair, set them just, but have high standards."

 

As his final lesson, he said to never hold somebody back because it benefits you.

 

He closed by saying, "The most important thing that you learn, whether you're in London, England, or London, Kentucky, is to find your piece of earth and because you were on that piece of earth, it's better because you were there."

 

Dr. Phillip Neal, president and CEO of SKyCTC, spoke immediately after Guthrie, saying that graduates will go into new careers or pursue more education, adding that a good number of the graduates have already gotten job offers.

 

He compared the journey through life to a trek across a raging river to find something better on the other side. In America, higher education is the bridge that helps people traverse from one side of life's raging river to the other, he said.

 

Emily Whitaker, who received an associate of science, said the next step for her is Western Kentucky University, where she plans to major in math. "I'm feeling pretty good," she said. "One stepping stone down."

 

Her goal is to become a high school math teacher, she said.

 

 

Aaron Jacobs in cap and gown standing next to congreman Brett Guthrie
Aaron Jacobs (left) of Butler county talks Friday, May 6, 2016
with U.S. Representative Bret Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, during
Southcentral Community and Technical College's spring
commencement at SKyPAC (Bac Totrung/photo@bgdailynews.com)

Whitaker has enjoyed her college experience so far, adding that SKyCTC's sense of community is appealing and her classes weren't too tough. "It made an easy transition from high school," she said.

 

Keambra Cofer, who wore a graduation cap adorned with a clock with its numbers jumbled and "About Time" spelled in blue letters, graduated with an associate of arts.

 

Soon, she'll move to Louisville and transfer to Sullivan University, where she plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in humanities.

 

SKyCTC prepared her well, Cofer said, adding that she found the smaller, more intimate classes a welcome change of pace from the WKU classes she struggled with before. "It was too big and fast-paced for me," she said.

 

Her ultimate goal is to be an event planner. "It's just what I like to do," she said. "It gets me excited."

Follow Daily News reporter Jackson French on Twitter @Jackson_French or visit bgdailynews.com.