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SU graduates were given the ‘three musts’ to be successful

7/27/2012

Southern University’s 2012 summer graduating class were told today there are ‘three musts’ needed to succeed.

“You must listen. You must be able to pivot. And, you must learn from experiences, good and bad,” said Dr. Albert D. Sam II, telling some 262 graduates and another 2,000 people in attendance at the F.G. Clark Activity Center on the Baton Rouge campus.

Sam, a member of the Louisiana Board of Regents, the state colleges’ top governing board, is also an associate professor and chief of vascular surgery at Tulane University’s Heart and Vascular Institute.

Sam shared with the 262 graduates his pivotal story of divorce, sadness and lack of top notch performance during his fourth year in medical school.

He advised the students to embrace rough times in life and to redirect themselves to make their goals and dreams come true.

“Embrace the rough times and controversy, just don’t start them,” chuckled Sam.

He went on to tell graduates about the importance of listening to mentors. “No one gets to where they are going on their own,” he said.

Sam said Southern has had to pivot with budget cuts and the reduction of programs. He stressed to the graduates that they will have to “step up” and do their part to help Southern financially.

“You must represent Southern to the fullest once you leave the Bluff. You are a reflection of your degree from Southern,” said Sam. He encouraged them to join the alumni group saying, “Give back your money where your heart is.”

Sam also pledged to the audience that he would be a steadfast supporter of Southern in its effort to deal with the challenges caused by state budget cuts.

Adonay Sissay, a chemistry major from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was the Chief Student Marshal for the 2012 Summer Commencement graduating with a 3.91 grade point average. He is the second in his family to be the Chief Student Marshal following his brother, Michael, a physics major, who earned the title for the spring 2002 commencement.

His parents, several of his siblings and other relatives attended Friday morning’s ceremony.

That Sissay graduated in chemistry was no small accomplishment. Students in Ethiopia do not choose their own career path. Instead, once they graduate from high school their field of study is assigned by the Ministry of Education if they plan to attend a college in Ethiopia.

Sissay was selected to study computer science, a subject of little interest to him. His heart was set on studying chemistry and the sciences.

An education in the U.S. became a reality when his brother Micheal’s professor, Dr. Diola Bagayoko, chair of the Department of Physics at Southern, attended a conference in Ethiopia. After hearing Sissay’s story Bagayoko made a stop to the Sissay’s home to discuss opportunities at Southern.

Bagayoko offered Sissay an assistantship under the title of Affiliate Scholar of Timbuktu Academy, led by Bagayoko.

Sissay said he plans to continue his education and to seek a Ph.D in chemistry. “I am proud of myself for how far I have come. I have fulfilled what I wanted,” said Sissay.