Rene Robinson-Flowers '05
President Eastman, distinguished guests, faculty, staff, family members and friends, and fellow graduates: what an honor to be selected to stand before you today.
My time spent in the Program for Experienced Learners has truly been inspiring. I have met new friends - young and old, some still trying to decide what they want to be when they grow up, some of us hesitant, yet all of us finally realizing our goals and our dreams.
All of us have experienced the late night study groups, the last minute requests for an extension, the ten page papers written on short notice because we got behind juggling full time jobs, families and school; however, I never heard from any of my classmates in the PEL program that "my children ate my homework," "I mailed my paper to Progress Energy instead of the school," or "My boss used my assignment to get a promotion."
Personally, I will miss the very hearty dinners comprised of popcorn, peanuts, candy bars and soda. I will miss getting on the bicycles I affectionately call "The Yellow Submarines" to take a ride to the Triton Pub, the room in the Franklin Templeton building that can never get warm, and fighting with my fellow students for the books I need out of the library on campus.
From the first day of orientation, I was made to feel like a part of a very special community. What would PEL be without the professors who have the hard task of keeping us in line and challenging us to think beyond where we are now and to look within ourselves to determine where we could be.
If we were not educated before we got here, we all will certainly leave that way. We have all shared in the experience of reading books that challenged our minds and our heartstrings from the Dali Lama to reading about the dreams of Willie Lowman in Death of A Salesman. We have been challenged to examine our values, morals, and beliefs.
We have had our imaginations stretched by our professors - we have been challenged to look beyond our personal feelings and ourselves and to move to a new level of respect for of all nationalities and social, economic, and religious communities. This is the power of a liberal arts education.
I won't miss you for very long because I have challenged myself to stay in tune and stay in touch with Eckerd College. So - when you see me on campus please do not ask me for my assignment because this time I truly will not have it ready, but what I will have ready are words of encouragement and a friendly smile for the next mother like me juggling two jobs, children and a husband while trying to serve as an example to others that it is never to late to go back to college.
Lastly, "Never be afraid to try something new or even think a new thought. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic".
As a graduate of Eckerd College, anything that you want to build WILL LAST!
Rene Robinson-Flowers of St. Petersburg, Florida, St. Petersburg City Councilwoman for District 7, gave the welcoming remarks on behalf of the Program for Experienced Learners graduates. Ms. Robinson-Flowers received a bachelor of arts degree with a concentration in organizational studies. While carrying out her duties as a City Council member, she has worked full time for Health/Youth Services with the Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free St Petersburg, Inc., and has raised 3 kids (and a husband). Ms. Robinson-Flowers graduated from Eckerd with distinction honors.