Retired Army Command Sergeant Major Martin Celestine encouraged Troy University graduates on Friday to continue to embrace “the art of possible” that brought them to this major milestone in life – a college degree.
Speaking to nearly 90 graduates during the Phenix City Campus’ fall commencement ceremony, Celestine, who serves as Vice President of Operations at the National Infantry Museum, told graduates to be proud of and celebrate their accomplishment.
“Make no mistake that tonight marks a significant milestone in your life and you should be proud and you should be celebrated,” he said. “You have earned and deserve all the accolades affiliated with this accomplishment. Your accomplishment highlights your abilities to continue to strive for excellence and what is possible.”
Celestine said the accomplishments of this graduating class are even more remarkable given that they had to navigate their educational journey through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The journey that you, the graduates, have chosen to take is the most challenging as it pertains to academic rigor. It is not lost on anyone in this room on what you have accomplished in spite of navigating through a pandemic,” he said. “This showcases not only your willingness and determination to succeed but also the art of possible. I encourage you that when times are good, be grateful. And when times get tough, be graceful. We can all agree that the last three years has created some ups, some downs, highs, lows, but you did it. You embraced it, you achieved and you overcame.”
The resiliency shown by these graduates will serve them well in the years to come, Celestine told the audience.
“When I look across the room, I see diversity, I see resilience, I see balance, I see progress, and, most importantly, I see the art of possible,” Celestine said. “I see a group that is made up of working adults, and all the challenges affiliated with going to school, to work, raising a family and all the social obligations that come along with adulthood. Whether it was at night, on the weekends or through distance learning, you have overcome all obstacles and hurdles, which is a direct reflection of your resiliency and your mental toughness.”
Celestine told graduates that they all represented a similar cause – the cause of excellence.
“It is to know better, be better and do better through the art of possible and continued education,” he said. “Tonight, this graduating class consists of individuals who have demonstrated exemplary and honorary service and has chosen to embrace the academic rigor affiliated with higher learning while balancing a second career. It consists of individuals who epitomize resiliency as they balance duty, honor, country, along with the military’s own levels of academic rigor in the form of professional military education. It consists of individuals who have embraced the art of possible and ventured out, not just into higher learning but into the cause of building connections and embracing the challenge of learning how to learn.”
Celestine challenged graduates to utilize the lessons learned through their educational journey to continue to overcome obstacles and challenges and embrace what is possible in their own lives.
“You have earned something that can never be taken away,” he said. “I encourage you to remember that minds are like parachutes; they function only when open. Continue to embrace the art of possible, and congratulations on your phenomenal accomplishment.”
Celestine, who earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from TROY, is a native of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in August 1990, and has served in every leadership position in the Infantry from Team Leader, Bradley Section Sergeant, Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, Operations Sergeant Major, and Command Sergeant Major.
In his last assignment, Celestine was responsible for building and sustaining the Maneuver Force as the CSM of the Maneuver Center of Excellence.