Diversity in Education: A Commencement Address at The Oregon Snake River Prison

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Good morning everyone, I want to thank the staff of  Treasure Valley Community College for extending me this privileged opportunity to be with you great men of promise.

I call you men of promise because you represent the future of this educational program, and all that is good and excellent because of your hard work and labors. I salute you brothers and desire to share a few inspirational nuggets of truth with you, which may help you on your journey to greater things.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

My dear brothers and fellow strugglers in life. I want to ponder some serious thoughts with you for a moment. Life itself as you know is full of challenges, obstacles, setbacks and back sets. All of these things are usually laced with trouble and bad news.

Yet in every situation that produces pain there is a silver lining if we only look hard enough to discover it. As men of promise I offer you today the idea of success within the confines of struggle.

Look at what you have accomplished this day and tell me what it really is all about. You have succeeded at completing something that the masses will never understand or be able to do. Had they had to travel the road of life that you are on, many would have given up long ago. Therefore, I salute you today, for these accomplishments.

As I pondered the thought of this ceremony, I was reminded of the motto of Samford University. The motto of the school is “For God for Learning for life”. I like this motto because it speaks of three primary things that I call the triangle of promise.

  1. For God
  2. For Learning
  3. For Life

Together these big three make up pillars that if linked all together can be a powerful formula for life. I want to engage you men of promise today to become men of purpose, while you travel through the school of adversity.

Dr. King said that “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I submit to you the thoughts of this great leader that they were given out of his struggles and obstacles in leadership. Just as Dr. King struggled in life you and I struggle also. However, it is in the struggles that we can learn the ultimate measure of true manhood.

When it is all over said and done, we will be measured in this life according to how we handled challenges and controversies. No real man of promise and purpose is ever measured in relation to their achieved comforts in life, but rather we remember them for the lessons they teach us from their pains, and perplexities.

  • Dr. King
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Mahatma Maghandi
  • Jesus of Nazareth
  • Apostle Paul

All of these historical leaders left us lessons and legacies of leadership that inspire, instruct, and create room within us to do great and noble things. They had a life model that works for me “For God For learning for life.

  • They were passionate about what they did
  • They were passionate about what they believed
  • They were passionate about what they desired
  • They were passionate about life and serving others.

They were passionate about their creator.As men of promise you too ought to be inspired to do great things in the earth. As men of promise you too ought to be inspired to achieve greatness in the area of your creativity. As men of promise you too ought to be inspired to make a difference in your world.Your life ought to be first committed to God. In Him alone you can find strength, courage, support, safety, security and substance to help you on your journey. One of the greatest needs for a man of promise is to find his power spot!

  • The power spot is that place where he excels.
  • The power spot is that place where he soars.
  • The power spot is that place where he fires on all pistons.

It is what athletes call the “sweet spot”! That place where you get in the game and you are unstoppable.When a man of promise gets in this spot Amazing things happen. Things that cannot be explained, something divine takes place and takes over. Brothers you need to find where that is and get there on this journey. You will not begin to enjoy it until you do.Secondly, I want to challenge you to build your pillar of learning. It is the second pillar in the triangle of promise. The academic journey you are on is an endless mile of information. It is here that you will expand and grow, never being able to exhaust the mental muscles of the brain.This pillar will open your world and your understanding of the vast knowledge that is surrounding you. Education will give you the ability to process, ponder, produce, and provide the world with creativity, it has never seen. All of these things flow from the pillar of learning.

It is from the pillar of learning that man has given us amazing things.

  1.  sky scrappers
  2. air planes
  3. computers
  4. auto mobiles
  5. television
  6. music
  7. medicine
  8. biology
  9. anthropology & science

Learning is incredible, and learning is free. The measure of man can be found in the pillar of learning. You have begun to develop this pillar in your life. Your learning has been both experiential and academic. I salute you for graduating and or re-enrolling in the school of hard knocks, when you complete it you will fully know what you ought to do and what you ought not to do.The third and final pillar I want to introduce you to is the pillar of life. Harry Emerson Fosdick said:

“Life is like a library owned by the author. In it are a few books which he wrote himself, but most of them were written for him.

Men of promise as we grow and develop, we become the librarian of our own library. We know were the titles of our best times are located in the shelves of our minds.

We know where the horror fiction selections are located in our souls.

We know where the poetry is kept and the spiritual writings and experiences that we have encountered along the way are located.

But most of all we are to archive the new stuff that we pick up on the journey, Things that will help others to grow and become men of promise.

We are to be caretakers of knowledge and suppliers of encouragement, enthusiasm, support, and strength. As the librarian of our lives our inner shelves should be filled with things we have learned from others, lessons we have taught ourselves from opportunities that have come our way.

I hope and pray men of promise that this opportunity to better yourselves doesn’t get misfiled on the wrong shelf.

I hope and pray men of promise that this benefit of education does not get shredded in the trash bin of nothingness.

I hope and pray men of promise that your time in the library of life will enhance your purpose for living and will develop in you a rich well of resources to be poured out upon some young thirsty soul, who can learn from your mistakes and benefit from your blessings.

My name is Pastor Wilson, my high school education, came from the Jail house, my first degree came from a private Christian University.

My second, third and fourth degrees came from private Christian Universities and my fifth degree will come from a private University. I’m a life long learner, and I love living in the library.

My thoughts and intentions have been shaped by many great people, But my greatest and most important degree has come from reading the living books of men and continuing to stretch myself in the triangle of promise.

I got to leave you now, but my sons will read my life today, they will study my thoughts tomorrow and long after I am gone, they will remember and rewrite the lessons I have taught them as their daddy.

Tell me, who will read about you when you have gone off the scene? Who will ponder what you have said and done? Who will quote your deepest thoughts? From one brother to another, let’s make purpose out of promise and give them something to read about.

Congratulations brothers, for a job well done.