GCCC graduates hear words of wisdom at commencement





During his keynote address at the 93rd commencement ceremony Friday at Garden City Community College, Bill Snyder, Kansas State University head football coach, urged the more than 340 associate degree and certificate candidates to set goals, find their priorities in life and work hard to achieve whatever success they are looking for.

"We are all different. We have a lot of differences, but we also have a few things in common," he said. "Number one, I think we all have a desire to be successful. Number two, you will find that you are indeed the ones who are in control of achieving that success or not. And third, some of you may have achieved a leadership role ... but if you haven't yet, you will in some form or fashion. Whether it be in your family, your chosen career field, your community, you will have some impact on leadership in your lifetime."

During his address, Snyder shared some of the things he talks about with young people in the KSU football program about the importance of having a plan of attack, a process or a system of figuring out what's important to each individual and taking steps to make things happen.

"I've always shared with young people in our program how important it is ... to surround yourself with people who are great people. Surround yourself with people that genuinely care. It can and will make your life better. Seek those people out," he said.

Whatever a person's goals are, Snyder urged graduates to follow a process to achieve them. The process should involve first defining what's truly important in life, and then defining the steps needed to achieve those goals.

"I encourage you to find your priorities. When you truly define, and most of us don't do it, then establishing goals is a pretty easy process," Snyder said.

Snyder said the process also involves hard work. He told a story about growing up in a single-parent household and living in a one-room apartment. Snyder's mother always told him that if he worked as hard as he could, he could achieve success in anything.

"I trusted my mother immensely. She provided great principles to me. And when she said if you want to achieve something, you need to work at it. That's exactly what I did," he said.

And it doesn't necessarily mean taking huge leaps. Snyder said success can be achieved by taking little steps. To illustrate, he pointed to his first football team which had never won a game. In his first season, they finished 1-10, but by taking steps to get better at one thing every day, eventually they improved every year, winning two games, then four, six, 10 and 11.

"It's about finding a way every single day of your life to become a little bit better at whatever those priorities are in your life," Snyder said.

GCCC also recognized distinguished guest Dr. Nathan A. Strandmark, a family physician at Plaza Medical Center and GCCC student from 1995 to 1997.

"I really enjoyed my time here," Strandmark said. "I appreciate this honor, and I congratulate the graduates tonight and wish them the best of luck in future endeavors."

Ryan Ruda, vice president of student services/athletic director, recognized six students selected by faculty and staff as Outstanding Student Award recipients. They included Robin Dassy, Heidi Hubbard, Deni Jacobs, Kowan Russell, Samantha Trejo and Joshua Welch.

Ruda said the students chosen each year for the award are recognized for exemplifying strong qualities in academics, models of character, leadership and academic excellence.

Linda Morgan, director of public safety, was also recognized as an outstanding faculty member.

The graduates included approximately 20 men and women earning associate in arts degrees, 203 who completed associate in science requirements, 50 who received associate in applied science degrees and 14 who met associate in general studies degree requirements. In addition, approximately 55 received certificates in automotive technology, cosmetology, industrial maintenance or practical nursing.

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