Several graduates added decorations to the top of their caps and gowns, such as flowers and even a design of Spiderman holding a diploma, for the summer commencement ceremonies.
More than 1,200 students became alumni at two graduation ceremonies, which were held on Aug. 4, at the Auburn Arena. CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Tim Vines gave the commencement address at both ceremonies, which each featured different colleges from across campus.
After a presentation of the colors, Auburn’s President Steven Leath gave a short speech before introducing Vines.
“Your class shares values that our society needs,” Leath said in his address. “A dedication to service and an understanding of the importance of collaboration, across and in communities."
Several administrators were seated on stage including Auburn Board of Trustees member Quentin P. Riggins and Jane DiFolco Parker, president of the Auburn University Foundation and vice president for development. Several dozen more faculty were seated at the front rows at the ceremony.
“Graduates, our faculty members have played a major role in preparing you for the next steps in your lives," Leath said. "They have mentored you, challenged you and inspired you."
Leath also requested that graduates stand and applaud the family and friends who have supported them over the years.
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“All of these folks have played a major role in helping you get to Auburn and helping you be successful once you got here,” Leath said. “Look to these folks and thank them.”
Vines graduated from Auburn in 1988 with a degree in finance before becoming the CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and now serving on the board of directors for the American Red Cross Alabama Region, the Better Business Bureau for South and Central Alabama and the Birmingham Business Alliance.
“The time I spent at Auburn was just a wonderful time,” Vines said. “It was a very special time for me.”
In his speech, Vines said that the three things graduates needed to know were the importance of hard work, integrity, and thankfulness.
Vines spoke of his mother who raised him and seven other siblings as a single mother. He said it was because of her the example she set he and many of his siblings were able to attend college.
“There’s no shortcut to success, whatever you do, do it with excellence, any job worth doing is worth doing well,” Vines said.
Vines also talked about his time playing on Auburn’s baseball team as a walk-on. Even though he didn't play in many games, he was thankful to get to practice with baseball legends Bo Jackson and Frank Thomas, Vines said.
“Acknowledge those who have helped you in your life, give thanks daily for the blessings you have been given, and then you go and be a blessing to somebody else,” Vines said. “Don’t ever take for granted the sacrifices others have made for you, so that you can have the opportunities that you enjoy today.”
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