Section Navigation

Appalachian Graduates Urged to Embrace Life’s

grad.jpgBOONE — Graduates of Appalachian State University were urged to embrace life’s opportunities and challenges by commencement speakers Dr. Katie G. Dorsett and Robert Morgan during ceremonies Dec. 16.

Dorsett is secretary of the N.C. Department of Administration. She spoke to graduates of the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School.

Morgan, author of the bestseller “Gap Creek” and novels and poetry and short story collections, addressed the university’s undergraduates. He was a writer-in-residence in the university’s creative writing program during fall semester.

Approximately 730 undergraduate students and 120 graduate students received degrees during Saturday’s events. Students who completed degree requirements in August were invited to participate in the December ceremonies.

Dorsett urged graduates to reflect on the personal history that each one is making and will continue to make. She said that each generation faces challenges that offer opportunities for personal growth. For Dorsett’s generation, the 1960s were a character-building time, especially for African Americans. Dorsett was the first African-American woman to hold a cabinet post in North Carolina.

“Racially, we were a nation divided,” she said. “At times (the racial divide) was painfully evident, both in my career and as a citizen of our state. No American or world citizen can live unaffected by the times, whether it’s the ugly specter of social or racial injustice or the longest, most prosperous peacetime economy in which we now live. Issues such as poverty, enduring threats of war in the Middle East, preservation of the environment, of children’s education and AIDS, all of these have been with us for years.

“Remember that as daunting and challenging as these issues may seem, in each lies chances for growth and personal greatness. It’s the way we respond to those challenges that shapes our history,” she said.

Morgan told how education and access to books changed his life. “I grew up on a one-horse farm where we kept milk and butter in the spring house. But I also had some advantages. My parents, though not formally educated, read books and talked a lot about books and ideas,” he said. Morgan’s mother taught him to read before he went to school.

Morgan said his life was transformed when a bookmobile began making monthly visits to his community. He soon read adventure stories that transported him to Alaska and the Northwest Territory, to trapper’s camps and Indian villages.

A schoolteacher recognized Morgan’s love of reading and encouraged him to write his own adventure story.

“As I began putting down the details, the story began to unfold,” Morgan said. “I found the life of the story was in the details.”

Morgan continued to write poetry and short stories while he was an engineering student at N.C. State University. When others read his works, “I was filled with a satisfaction I had hardly dreamed about before—seeing the effect of my writing on a reader,” he said.

Morgan praised the opportunities education has brought him, as well as others who attend the nation’s universities.

“I believe that universities are the glory of American higher education, because they offer extraordinary opportunities, not just to the few, not just to the exceptional, but to the many. No other society that I know of offers such a broad opportunity, giving both a first and a second chance for an education to its citizens, going the second mile to nurture the culture and the life of the minds.”

Graduation Photos