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Speaker tells SU grads to “be prepared” when break happens

12/13/2013

 

Southern University graduates were told at today's commencement program that it is important that they "be prepared when your break happens" no matter when it comes.

Deborah Augustine Elam, speaking to 566 graduates, said they should be prepared to move when job offers come and to be prepared to do the job. Elam, president of the GE Foundation and Chief Diversity Officer for GE, told the students "today is the day that your faith is rewarded."

Elam works at the GE Corporate Headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., and leads efforts globally to bring GE employees closer to their communities while maintaining diversity and inclusiveness as an essential part of GE's competitive advantage.

Elam, a native of New Orleans, received her master's degree in Public Administration from Southern in 1987. She received an internship with the GE while at Southern.

When she was quickly offered a job at GE, Elam said, "it was not in my master plan" but she was prepared for the opportunity.

She told the graduates that they still have time to prepare themselves. "It's never too late to be the person you were meant to be."

More than 5,000 family and friends attended the graduation ceremony held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

Yalin Liu, a native of China, lead the graduates into the Activity Center as the Chief Student Marshal, the graduate with the highest over grade point average. Liu had at 3.84 gpa in computer science.

 

"I was excited," said Liu after hearing that she would be the Chief Student Marshal. "I applied to graduate school so this will make my resume look beautiful," she laughed.

 

The 22 year-old, from Sichuan Province in China, discovered Southern while searching for schools with a research assistantship in the United States. She came across Southern and contacted Dr. Shizhong Yang, a Computational Scientist in the Department of Computer Science.

 

Yang welcomed Liu to Southern and helped provide a home for her during her first semester in Baton Rouge. "Dr. Yang is very nice and his wife and him treated me like family," said Liu.

 

Yang said Liu is a talented student "who will shine in Southern and in the science community."

 

 

Next Liu plans to attend graduate school either in California or Texas. She will get her Ph.D. and eventually teach at a university.