Although many sitting in the audience already had overcome obstacles in their pursuit of a college degree, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette called on the Class of 2023 to embrace failure without fear as Lander University conferred bachelor’s and master’s degrees to 555 graduates during its 167th commencement Wednesday (May 3).
Evette was the guest speaker for the 11 a.m. ceremony for graduates of the College of Business, College of Education, and the School of Nursing.
During a ceremony at 3 p.m., Dr. Lucas McMillan, dean of the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, addressed the graduates from his college, as well as those from the College of Arts & Humanities, College of Science & Mathematics and the Interdisciplinary Program.
“Don’t allow fear to keep you from jumping headfirst toward your dreams,” said Evette, who was a successful business leader before being elected as the Palmetto State’s first Republican lieutenant governor in 2018 and re-elected in 2022.
She told the graduates to put fear into perspective. “When we fail, we learn from it,” she said, noting that she looked back on every hardship and failure with positivity and had learned to accept life’s curve balls as opportunities for growth.
Evette implored the graduates to have integrity, which she called “a precious resource.”
Living with integrity, she explained, “is something you must do every day … even when you know no one is watching or listening. To me, having integrity is and will always be one of the most valuable things that we have in life.”
The descendant of immigrants who came to the United States after fleeing the hardships of life in Poland in the early 1900s, Evette told the graduates to dream big. “Don’t pump the brakes before you even get started.”
She asked the graduates a series of questions about their future. “Will you limit yourself or will you go for it, go for the big dream? Will you let fear stand in the way or will you take risks? What will you do when no one is watching? Will you choose to be divisive or will you engage with others with open arms and an open heart? Will you be willing to put in the time and persevere, to see curve balls in life as gifts?”
In concluding her remarks, Evette said, “This education has equipped you to launch your careers and participate in the civic lives of your community, defy expectations, inspire others and make an impact that radiates through your community and beyond.”