MANSFIELD - More than 400 new college graduates walked across the stage at Decker Gymnasium Saturday, and into their futures as Mansfield University held its 147th commencement.
As is tradition, the ceremony was held the day before Mother's Day, and many of the smiling graduates wore "Thanks Mom" on their mortarboards for all to see.
Featured speaker Harold C. Shields, principal in Harold C. Shields HR Consulting LLC and a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors, addressed the capacity crowd at Decker.
CHERYL R. CLARKE/Sun-Gazette
Harry J. Sheehe, of Troy, accepts bachelor’s degree from his mother, nursing faculty member Janeen Sheehe, during Mansfield University commencement ceremonies Saturday.
Raised by his grandmother in Creighton, Shields said she was his first exposure to what it means to be a leader.
"She would vote in every election, and she would go around and pick up other black people, Negroes back then, and make sure they went to vote, too. If they said they were too sick, she would say, well, I will take you to the doctor later," he said to laughter.
"Usually after they voted they decided they weren't sick anymore and didn't need to go see the doctor," he added.
Shields added that his grandmother had not "attended seminars or read books on the topic of leadership, she just knew the only way was education and self-reliance."
Shields encouraged the graduates to live up to their potential as leaders, and be more than just "potential leaders," but rather "kinetic leaders."
"You've heard the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I would say that the subbase of the road to hell is paved with the good intentions, but the top coat is paved with untapped potential," he said.
Describing the difference between being a leader, follower or impediment to others in life, Shields said he believed there are "elements of leadership in everyone."
"If you possess the characteristics of a leader, but they lie dormant within you, then you are either a follower or an impediment," he said, adding, "after all the rhetoric, the way to realize your potential as a leader is to imagine it, communicate it and third, get 'er done."
University Interim President Dr. Allan Golden told the grads to "stay in touch, contact us when you need something, contact us when you don't need anything.
"Congratulations! Now, go out and change the world," he added.