Determination, perseverance and faith will take graduates of Troy University to the places they want to be, Rosolyn “Roz” Durden told Troy University graduates during her keynote address at commencement exercises for the Phenix City Campus and Fort Benning.
Some 150 students received their degrees Friday, Jan. 24 in the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
“Determination, perseverance and faith will pave the way to your success,” she said.
Durden, former communications manager for WestRock and a member of the Troy University Phenix City Advisory Council, related her life experiences to graduates as an example of goal setting and achievement.
Married the same year she graduated high school in 1976, the Durden’s first child would come the next year, followed by a second a couple of years later. She would complete an associate of arts degree from the local community in 1993 before gaining a bachelor’s degree from Spring Hill College in nearby Mobile.
“Many nights I recall studying and then waking up covered in the books I had been using,” she said. “I worked full time and went to school full time.”
So stretched for time, Durden admitted that sometimes church suffered: once using the hymn book as cover for her study notes, until her mother caught her. The hymn was “Amazing Grace” but her mother forbade future studying while “in the Lord’s House.”
Durden, who worked for International Paper for 15 years before joining WestRock as its communications manager, also admitted there were times when she didn’t believe she could accomplish her educational goal.
“There were days I thought I could not go on,” she said. “Perseverance, remaining steadfast on my mission and keeping my eyes on the prize kept me going.”
In 1995, she graduated from Spring Hill College – the same year her daughter graduated high school.
“Years before it became real, I visualized sitting with a college diploma. Determination, perseverance and faith made the difference in my life,” she said.
Durden told graduates they had already experienced part of the equation.
“Trojans, there have been times you wanted to throw in the towel … Graduates, you made it. You may have stumbled along the way but you didn’t stay down. The work you did cannot be taken away by anyone, and you are here (graduating) and this is only the beginning,” she said. “Determination, perseverance and faith will pave the way to your success.”