Snell encourages Dothan grads to be their best in commencement address

Geneva City Schools Superintendent Ron Snell delivered the commencement address at the Dothan Civic Center.

Geneva City Schools Superintendent Ron Snell delivered the commencement address at the Dothan Civic Center.

Geneva City Schools Superintendent Ron Snell spoke to Troy University Dothan Campus graduates Sunday afternoon about the characteristics of successful people and how to be your best self.

An educator of 38 years, Snell asked the graduates to consider the qualities they have that helped them succeed in earning their degree and what the core components are of their successes.

“The answer to those questions matters because they got you here,” he said, “and more importantly, they should inform how you negotiate your next steps towards even greater success. My goal today is to set them up as a signpost, a touchstone, something you can reflect on and point to when things don’t go so well.”

According to Snell, the most successful people have grit, they know their “why” and they understand the importance of relationships. 

“Grit is the number one component of success. Grit is many things, but it is the combination of perseverance, persistence and passion,” he said. Every one of you had a goal to be sitting right where you are right now, and you pursued that with determination. Persistence is continuing toward a goal despite challenges and obstacles. Passion is that intense and sustained dedication for achieving that dream that’s driven by a clear sense of purpose—a belief in the value of what you’re doing. 

“I may not know what your goals are, but whatever they are, you’re going to need perseverance, persistence and passion to achieve it at the level that you should.”

To grow grit, “get up,” he said, and do something every day that moves you to your goal, and begin again after setbacks as many times as it takes to succeed.

Graduates salute during the fight song at the end of the graduation ceremony.
TROY’s Alma Mater closes out the commencement ceremony.

Snell encouraged the graduates to reflect on why they went through the difficulties of making it to graduation to better understand their purpose.

“I know what your ‘what’ is, but that doesn’t matter as much as your ‘why.’ Reflect on what your why is—why you went through those hard times, why you stayed up late at night working on that project, why you had to neglect things in your personal life in order to achieve what you did,” he said. “That answer helps define your purpose and will illuminate your passion. When you know your ‘why,’ your ‘what’ becomes much more impactful because you are walking towards and in your purpose.”

While he encouraged the graduates to take in their moment in the spotlight and celebrate their accomplishments on graduation day, Snell issued a reminder that life isn’t always about us—it’s about the relationships we have with those around us.

“You deserve credit for this day, but moving forward…it is not all about you. It’s all about people,” he said. “There’s an African proverb that reads, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ There is great value in collaboration, teamwork and collective effort. If you want to achieve long-term success, it’s going to matter who you network with.

“Your time will never be wasted when you spend it forming, building and improving your personal relationships.”

Snell graduated from Auburn University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in social science education, followed by a master’s degree in social science from Georgia State University in 1994 and an Education Specialist degree in educational leadership from Troy-Dothan in 2004. 

He has been an educator for nearly 38 years with 26 years of experience as a school administrator and 11 years as a high school history teacher and coach. He taught for six years in Atlanta, Georgia and five years in Geneva County Schools. 

He served as assistant principal for five years at both Samson and Slocomb high schools, as principal for eight years at Northview High School, for four years at Opp High School and for two years at T.R. Miller High School. Snell was appointed to Superintendent in 2018.

While serving at Hartford High School, Snell was named Teacher of the Year as well as Teacher of the Year for Geneva County School System. Additionally, he is Past President of Geneva Rotary and Geneva United Way and serves on the Wiregrass United Way Board of Directors.

He and his wife, Kim, have five children, 9 grandchildren and attend Slocomb First Baptist Church.