Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam Exhorts FSC Graduates: “Be Curious, Follow Your Heart”
LAKELAND (Dec. 17, 2012) – Declaring that “institutions of higher learning … should instill in us a sense of curiosity,” Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam urged graduates at Florida Southern College’s winter Commencement ceremony on Dec. 15 to continue to seek learning throughout their lives.
During the ceremony, which filled Branscomb Auditorium to capacity with families and friends, the College conferred 168 degrees, including 62 graduate degrees.
Mr. Putnam, a native of Bartow and fifth-generation Floridian, was elected to serve as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture in 2010. He served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of Florida’s 12th Congressional District and served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1996 to 2000. First elected as a state representative at age 22, Mr. Putnam told the graduates their degrees represent an opportunity to make a difference.
“There is no magical age to make a difference,” he said.
Mr. Putnam made a plea for the graduates to remain in Florida, to “build here, innovate here, create here, and dream here.” He advised the graduates to continue their learning by reading and writing, to be persons of faith, and to find balance between work and other activities. He also said, “Follow your heart.”
“Do what makes you happy. Follow your passion. Life’s too short to be miserable at work,” he said.
The President’s Scholar Medal was awarded to Melissa Joanne Adams of the United Kingdom, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education magna cum laude. The medal honors a graduating senior whose academic standing is in the top 1 percent of all graduates, who exemplifies the values of the College, and who has a demonstrated commitment to scholarship, student leadership and service.
The Senior Speaker at Commencement was Matthew Cicanese of Dade City, who reflected on how failure is inevitable in life but should be an incentive for success. He referred to how he had to overcome partial deafness and vision impairment due to a disease in infancy.
“Failure has to be an option, in exploration and in art. No innovation is done without failure,” he said.