Lott to graduates: American dream ‘can work for you’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 14, 2000

LORMAN – Nothing could distract James Lee Watts Sr. from watching with pride as his son, James Jr., marched to his seat at Alcorn State University’s 129th graduation ceremony, which was held in Jack Spinks Stadium.

&uot;It’s a wonderful day in the life of our family,&uot;&160;said James Watts Sr., of Vicksburg. &uot;We’ve always tried hard to teach our children that a good education is what will stay with them in life and help them succeed. And we’ve achieved that goal.&uot;

And in delivering his keynote speech to Alcorn’s 629 graduates, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott spoke of the hard work his own father, a shipbuilder, did to make sure young Trent could go continue his education.

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&uot;He said, ‘Stand on my shoulders and reach for the stars. You’re going to college’,&uot; Lott said. &uot;I’ve lived the American Dream, .. and it can work for you.&uot;

For some in Alcorn’s Class of 2000 — including one graduate bound for the Harvard School of Law and another already accepted by four medical schools — that dream is already being realized, Lott said.

But he added that there are four other things one must do to succeed in addition to getting an education: make family a priority, have faith in God, fight for your freedom and never give up.

&uot;The glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time you fail,&uot;&160;Lott said.

Lott also spoke of the things he believes Mississippi needs in order to attract higher-paying jobs for its graduates: more opportunities for its high school graduates to go to college and a better transportation system to attract industries.

Saturday’s graduating class included the first three students to graduate from Alcorn’s master’s of business administration.

It also included two students from the Department of Military Science who will receive U.S. Army Reserve Officers Training Corps commissions.

During the ceremony, Alcorn President Clinton Bristow told graduates they should make every effort to take their education even further.

&uot;It is imperative that you go on to graduate school, law school (or) medical school and receive higher degrees,&uot;&160;he said.