Dothan business leader Velma Tribue gave over 100 Troy Dothan graduates insights on the power of believing during her commencement address Sunday afternoon.
“You are here today because at some point in your life, you believed that this day would come. You put forth the effort, time, energy and sacrifice to make it happen,” she said. “Graduates, within your hands you hold the seeds to your success. You decide your future. You are the master of your fate.”
An Alabama native, Tribue recalled growing up in neighborhoods that were filled with “hopelessness and despair” and encouraged the graduates to overcome their circumstances and believe in the possibilities that lie ahead.
“Everything around me dictated to my mental, cognitive processes that I had nothing, thus I would be nothing. But, in spite of my existing circumstances, I dared to believe that in this life, there was something better and I could achieve it,” she said. “When you start to believe in possibilities, something magical begins to happen. We begin to alter the atmosphere of how we look at things. Things that once appeared to be impossible suddenly become possible.”
Believing is only the first step, she cautioned. Once we know our goal, every action we take must be related to fulfilling our dream, and then we need to work hard to achieve it.
“My mother used to tell us that with hard work, determination and a faith in God, you could do and be anything you wanted to be,” she said.
Tribue warned of the two biggest challenges the graduates will face in pursuit of their dream: doubt and fear. She encouraged the crowd to overcome these fears, to take a risk and live without excuses.
“It takes tremendous inner strength and courage to overcome your doubts and fears and pursue your dreams. If anyone hopes to achieve anything of significance, you must be willing to face your fears and take a risk. You must move outside of your comfort zone,” she said. “Make no excuses for your life. If you desire something better out of life, then do something about it. As long as you are still breathing, you have the opportunity to achieve the goals you have a desire for.”
In closing, Tribue advised the graduates to learn to look for the positive things in life, remind themselves how blessed they are and to remember they have been placed here for a purpose.
“Whatever accomplishments you’ve achieved thus far, there is something greater that still awaits you,” she said. “Take advantage of the incredible education you have received from an excellent university, but don’t stop there. Make it your charge to believe in possibilities as you seek to pursue your dreams and become the best person possible.”
Tribue became State Farm’s first African-American agent in the Wiregrass and opened her own agency in 1988 in downtown Dothan. Over her 32 years with State Farm, she received State Farm’s Legion of Honor, Bronze Tablet, Silver Scroll and Golden Triangle awards for meeting the company’s goals and objectives.
Making active participation in community service a tenant of her business success, Tribue is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and has served on state, regional and local boards including the Alabama A&M University (AAMU) Board of Trustees and was elected as secretary to the Alabama Humanities Foundation Board. In 2017, she was among AAMU‘s Women in History honorees and also was honored among Dothan’s top women entrepreneurs at the SWELL (Savvy Women, Entrepreneurs, Luminous & Limitless) Awards.
In 2018, Tribue became the first female African-American to be inducted into the prestigious Dothan Business Hall of Fame. Prior to that, she was also the first African-American to serve as Chairman of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and Dothan By Design in 2008.
She continues to serve the community on the Houston County Personnel Board, Dothan Houston County Intellectual Disabilities Board, Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission Revolving Loan Administration Board, Houston County Industrial Development Authority Board and the Alabama Osteopathic School of Medicine Advisory Board.
Tribue is a member of the Dothan Area Alumni Chapter of Alabama State University, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and First Missionary Baptist Church and is married to Donald “Trib” Tribue.