Choosing love, not hate can change the world, Long tells TROY graduates

Troy University honored spring and summer graduates during three separate, socially-distanced commencement ceremonies on Friday at Trojan Arena.

Troy University honored spring and summer graduates during three separate, socially-distanced commencement ceremonies on Friday at Trojan Arena.

Former Troy University Student Government Association President Morgan Long encouraged his fellow 2020 graduates to change the nation and the world by choosing to show love rather than hate.

Long delivered the keynote address at three separate commencement ceremonies held on the Troy Campus inside Trojan Arena on Friday honoring spring and summer TROY graduates. COVID-19 forced the postponement of the spring ceremony, which was scheduled to take place in May.

Friday’s ceremonies took on a much different look than normal commencement ceremonies in that graduates were socially distanced from one another and were required to where face coverings during the ceremony. Guests were limited to two per a graduate inside the arena with Veterans Memorial Stadium serving to accommodate additional guests.

A moment of silence was held in each ceremony honoring the memory of those lives lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former SGA President Morgan Long delivers the keynote address during Friday’s commencement ceremonies.

The moment in history and the differences in Friday’s ceremonies weren’t lost on Long, who was elected as TROY’s SGA president in 2019 and received his bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management during the first commencement ceremony of the day.

“What a time it is in our nation’s history,” Long told his fellow graduates. “This is an unprecedented time that truly marks the resilience of this generation.”

Quoting 1 Corinthians 13, Long urged graduates to choose “the Greatest Gift.”

“We have a choice every day. We are all born with this amazing attribute and ability to love. It is a part of all of us, but we must choose to use and show love,” he said.

Honoring the memory of Congressman John Lewis, who passed away on July 17 at the age of 80, Long recalled an often-quoted statement the late Pike County native spoke in 2009 – “Hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”

“Mr. Lewis certainly experienced hate throughout his lifetime. We all, in this room, have experienced or expressed hate in some capacity. Why would we choose to make people feel less? Why would we choose division, when we all have the gift of love?”

Choosing to love rather than to hate can change the world, he said.

“Today, as we start our new careers, our news lives — still in the midst of the pandemic and in a time where it seems everywhere we turn there is another fork in a road that is trying to divide us — we as Trojans have the capacity and the great ability to choose love. We have the ability to not just change our families and our communities, but to change our nation and our world. Paul finished out 1 Corinthians 13 by telling us ‘And now these three things remain forever: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ So today, graduates, as we walk out those doors, I challenge you to choose love.”

In all, some 770 students received degrees on Friday, including 398 undergraduates, 360 graduate students, and eight education specialist students. In addition, four will receive the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.