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Appalachian Graduates Receive Challenge: Become Leaders, Volunteers and Public Servants

121303graduates_dl.jpgBOONE–Phillip Kirk Jr., president of North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, challenged Appalachian State University graduates today (Saturday) to take time during their lives to become leaders, volunteers and public servants in their communities.

“Our nation needs leaders today – leaders who trust God, leaders who do what is morally right, leaders who make tough decisions, not ones that are merely based on popularity,” Kirk said. “In other words, stand for something.”

Kirk has spent a good part of his career leading others and making tough decisions. He is former chairman of the N.C. State Board of Education. Kirk chaired the working committees for the two largest successful bond issues in North Carolina history: $2.75 billion in bonds for schools and roads in 1996 and the $3.1 billion bond campaign for community colleges, the UNC System and UNC-TV in 2000.

Kirk urged graduates not to take the easiest path as they make their life choices. “Many times we take the path of least resistance, Kirk told graduates. Do not be afraid to reject the status quo, he advised. “Look for better ways to do things.”

He also urged graduates to find time to make a difference. “We all have 24 hours in a day. How we decide to use that time is left up to each of us,” he said. While some watch TV and others complain about world events, many take the time to help others, Kirk said. “Take the time to be a volunteer. Helping someone succeed will make you a better person,” he said. “Government can’t do it all, and shouldn’t. Government needs the help of private citizens, community groups and volunteers to help us meet the challenges.

It is in the role of public service that graduates will face their toughest assignment, Kirk said. “It is easy to criticize politicians and public officials, and they receive plenty of it,” Kirk said. “Serving in public life is tough, it is challenging and not enough people are willing to make that sacrifice.”

Kirk told graduates that they had earned something that would help guide them through life. “Education is one of the few things that no one can take from you. Knowledge truly is power. It provides you with choices,” he said. “Much of life is about choices, and it is our fervent hope that your education here at ASU has given you the ability to make the right choices.”

Appalachian awarded 809 undergraduate and 179 graduate degrees Saturday.


Picture Caption: Phillip Kirk Jr., president of North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry