Atmore's Helton delivers JDCC address

Published 7:00 pm Monday, May 24, 2004

By By staff reports
Jefferson Davis Community College welcomed one of its own as guest speaker at commencement exercises when David Helton – soon to be Dr. David Helton – returned and told this year's graduates that with faith in themselves and God they can meet any challenge.
The College conferred 165 degrees and awarded 28 certificates and 39 Alabama High School Equivalency diplomas. About 110 students participated in the commencement exercises, held Thursday, May 6, in Woodfin Patterson Auditorium.
Helton, an Atmore native who graduated from JDCC in 1998, has since earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and will graduate from UAB's School of Optometry later this month. He plans to return to Atmore and join Atmore Vision Center.
Helton assured JDCC's 2004 graduates that the educational foundation they've built has prepared them for future endeavors.
"Optometry school, as expected, has been the most challenging course of study that I have attempted. And I credit much of my success to the faculty that you see here at Jeff Davis," Helton said. "I want to personally thank each one of them for dedicating themselves to laying the educational foundation for so many of our present and future community leaders. You will not find a more caring, fair or knowledgeable group of teachers at any other institution.
"I want to emphasize the word "teacher," Helton said. "Many universities take pride in their over-paid, over-egoed professors who are world renowned for their research but couldn't teach someone to tie their shoes.
"Throughout my education, I have been taught by the best," he said. "It was not unusual to walk into a class at UAB and see the professor's name on the board and look down to see that he or she had also written the book. But with the firm foundation that I received here at Jeff Davis, I was prepared for the challenge."
Helton also shared the accomplishments of peers with whom he graduated from JDCC.
"I decided to give you a rundown of a few of my friends and fellow graduates of Jeff Davis … Jonathan Hall, master's of chemical engineering; Jonathan Threadgill, bachelor's in chemistry and UAB School of Dentistry class of 2005; Greg Barnett, engineer and master of business administration; Mason Frazier, engineer and medical doctor, radiology. Now you have the opportunity to use the educational platform that you, your families, and your teachers have built for you here as a springboard into the rest of your lives just as these former students have done.
"Every minute and dollar you have spent here is an investment in your future. Use it wisely," he said. "One of my favorite professors once told me, 'You only see what you look for and you only look for what you know.' Make sure you know what you are looking for in this life and the next; don't let the last day of class be the last day you learn. With faith in yourself and God, you can meet any challenge."
State Board of Education member Randy McKinney also was a platform guest for JDCC's commencement exercises.

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