Copiah-Lincoln Natchez graduates 139 students
Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 11, 2013
NATCHEZ — Devonte Demby knew it was cliché, but the message to his fellow Copiah-Lincoln Community College graduates was one in which he truly believed.
“Go out and be a leader, don’t be a follower,” Demby said to the 139 graduates sitting at the Natchez Convention Center. “Don’t be afraid.”
Demby gave a brief but emotional commencement address at the 41st annual Co-Lin Natchez campus commencement ceremony Friday evening.
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“Tonight, I stand before you with mixed feelings about my time at Co-Lin,” Demby said. “But am I afraid? No.
“We should all embrace the future ahead.”
Demby regaled his classmates with the story of how he wound up at Co-Lin — choosing the school over Louisiana Tech University, a school at which he was already accepted to study architecture.
“I, for one, wasn’t planning on coming to this college,” Demby said. “I had my heart set on Louisiana Tech… but it seemed like something was missing.”
After visiting Co-Lin’s campus with his brother Denzel Demby who was about to begin classes, Demby saw former public relations director Mark LaFrancis, and the two began talking about their love of film and movies.
“At that moment I knew Co-Lin was the place for me,” Demby said. “I had always loved drawing and thought I wanted to study architecture, but it just didn’t seem right.
“When I went to Co-Lin it was basically like coming home to family — like a second home.”
Demby said he chose to share that story with his fellow graduates as a way of showing them that it pays to take chances — even if they stray you off the current path.
“It’s normal to be nervous, but we all need to embrace the future and not be afraid of what’s ahead,” Demby said after the ceremony. “This is truly a blessing.”
Graduate Ryan McGaughey also spoke to the graduating class at the ceremony and reminded the students to thank all those who might have helped them get to where they are now.
“Tonight we have loving mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives and daughters and sons with us,” McGaughey said. “We’re here tonight because of their inexhaustible love and support.”
That message was especially true for McGaughey — a single dad who also works as a firefighter for the Natchez Fire Department.
McGaughey said he couldn’t have made it on the stage Friday night without the love and support of his family.
“I needed my family to get through this — to watch the kids while I did homework or went to work,” McGaughey said. “They’re the reason I’m here.”
McGaughey’s sons, Phoenix and Latham, stood proud by their father — giving the occasional high five of support between other celebratory greetings.
“We’re very proud of him,” Phoenix said.