In his last commencement as president of Claflin University, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale encouraged the 2019 graduating class to use the tools they were given.
“I want you to go forth and become the visionary leaders this fine institution has prepared you to become,” Tisdale said Saturday.
“You are well aware that Claflin University is about educating men and women with global perspectives,” he said. “You’ve been educated to become visionary leaders who are expected to effect change for the better in a wide variety of professions and causes around the world.”
Tisdale will be retiring from his alma mater next month. The 1965 graduate told his soon-to-be fellow alumni that they will be transitioning into a bigger world.
“When you leave this place, expect to live in a bigger world than what you see. Remember the world does not revolve around Orangeburg, South Carolina or your hometown,” Tisdale said.
“As you transition into the world beyond the western wall, you will find that there are trying times for our country and the global village in which we live. As you transition into your new beginning, you should be aware that the world you will enter is facing major challenges,” he said.
Tisdale noted a few of challenges the graduates will face, including climate change, large-scale conflicts and wars, inequality, lack of high-quality education and world poverty.
Tisdale encouraged the graduates to follow in the paths of visionary leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai and Barack Obama.
“The world needs you as you commence on your journey of transformation,” Tisdale told the graduates.
Tisdale also instructed the graduates to be attentive and appreciate words of encouragement.
“Graduates, when you hear the voices of those who believe in you, listen, pay attention and believe in yourself,” he said. “Say ‘thank you’ to those who helped you get this far.”
“We want you to look, we want you to listen and pay attention, we want you to imagine the possibilities and believe that you too can achieve greatness. We want you to go forth in the world and make your mark,” he said. “Never forget who you are and from whence you came.”
Tisdale told the graduates to have a dream and vision.
“You must have imagination. You must believe it can happen. You must be able to see and taste greatness,” he said. “Please protect and cherish your dreams.
“The world is calling on you."