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HUNTINGTON — Encouragement to live the life you are proud of while remembering to always keep learning was the main topic at Marshall University’s spring commencement ceremony Saturday morning.

The ceremony celebrated spring 2021 graduates, as well as graduates from the spring, summer and fall 2020 semesters.

Retired Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield served as the guest speaker for the commencement ceremony and told graduates that no matter what path they choose to take when leaving the stadium Saturday, they should live a life that makes them happy.

“I challenge each of you today to leave here persistent in your pursuit of creating the life you are proud of and that you believe is successful, whatever that might be,” Crutchfield said.

Crutchfield spoke of how the successes of his life started with where the graduates sat. He said the guidance and education he received at Marshall and from his family are what shaped him for the life he has.

Crutchfield gave the graduates three pieces of advice to remember throughout their lives: not everything is as it seems, be passionate but unemotional, and do not think you are ever too wise to stop learning.

Remembering that not everything is as it seems means to learn all of the information before making decisions, Crutchfield said. In personal and professional settings, he said, it’s important to know facts before making any decision.

While it is important to be passionate about what they want, Crutchfield told the graduates that being too emotional about those desires can lead to people not taking them seriously.

Lastly, Crutchfield encouraged the graduates to keep learning, no matter how old they get.

“Don’t become too wise or think that you are too old to accept advice or that you can’t learn new things,” he said. “Some of you may go on and pursue higher education, and some of you may enter the workforce immediately. No matter what you do, don’t stop learning and don’t stop accepting wisdom from others who have led the path that you’re about to be on.”

Recent student body president Anna Williams addressed the graduates to discuss their journey and the resiliency that developed throughout their time at Marshall.

Williams told the graduates that resiliency includes three qualities — adaptability, empathy and a motivation to problem solve. She spoke of how in times of hardship, the graduates persevered. They did this while practicing empathy with one another, which she said is a quality to remember as people move on to their next chapters in life.

“The practice of empathy is important to take with us,” Williams said. “As we rise, there is always room to extend a hand backward to pull (another person) up and to listen among the climb.”

Williams said the graduates moved forward despite change, and were able to adapt to their problems by changing the way they think about tough situations. Through it all, they woke up and kept going each day.

“There were many moments when the question, ‘How will I do this?’ loomed over our shoulders,” she said. “Instead of quitting, we adjusted to, ‘I can do this, and this is how.’ After a long test, a double shift, infamous bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-64, loss, financial hardships — you name it, we overcame it.”

Faculty and staff congratulated students on their accomplishments and wished them well in their future endeavors, and each student was recognized individually while crossing the stage and taking a photo with University President Jerome Gilbert.

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