Meet challenges head on, Air University commander tells TROY graduates

May 22, 2019

Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander and president of Air University, encouraged Troy University graduates at the Montgomery Campus to commit to hard work and meet life’s challenges head on.

Speaking during Monday night’s spring commencement ceremony inside the Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts, Cotton told graduates to be proud of their accomplishment and be aware of the new doors that it opens for them.

“Today we are celebrating the hard work and dedication of you, the graduates. You have fought hard to be here,” Cotton said. “Each of you have conquered your own challenges and taken advantage of opportunities presented. You deserve to be here and we are proud of what you have accomplished. With new degrees come new opportunities and for some new beginnings.”

Cotton warned that hard work alone doesn’t ensure success.

“First thing anyone must do when they have identified a challenge is to commit to work hard. A lot of people say they want to work hard, but it is rare to see people who take the initiative, not walk past a problem and focus 100 percent on their efforts,” he said. “I ask that each one of you be that person.

“After you have committed to making an effort, you have to have a plan of action to deal with that challenge head on. Hard work is a necessity, but effort alone is not going to be the answer. Sometimes this requires a deep examination of the problem, a drilling down to the core of its concerns. Once you have discovered what that root cause is attack it with everything you have.”

Cotton encouraged graduates to continue to build on the foundation of their TROY degrees and commit themselves to life-long learning.

“When one stops learning, they stop growing,” Cotton said. “I hope you are never satisfied with what you know and how you understand the world around you. A strong desire for self-improvement will only better prepare you to overcome the challenges that we face as a country and as a world.”

Mentors can prove to be an invaluable resource, Cotton said.

“Use the tools you have learned here at TROY to create an effective plan and employ a razor-sharp focus to execute that plan,” he said. “I also encourage you to actively seek out a mentor and learn from his or her example. As you leave here this evening and enter your respective fields, you will undoubtedly make mistakes. We all do. Making mistakes is frustrating, but it also provides us with opportunities to learn from our failures and not repeat them. Each mistake, each error in judgment, each flaw gives us the opportunity to analyze, improve and overcome. Those who are never challenged will never grow and realize their full potential.”

Nearly 180 graduates received degrees this spring at the Montgomery Campus. Along with those students participating in Monday night’s ceremony, the University also awarded degrees posthumously to the families of Jada Thornton (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and Avias Murry (Associate of Science in Nursing).

Also during the ceremony, Kim Kerr, lecturer in biology, was awarded the Troy University Montgomery Gamma Beta Phi 2019 Teacher of the Year award, presented by the honor society’s President April Davis.