Salk graduates receive compass points for life journey

For some the effort has taken two years. For others, the journey has been much longer.
For 284 young men and women, one journey is ending and another is beginning.
Commencement exercises were held Friday, May 1 on the grounds of the University of South Carolina – Salkehatchie in Allendale where 258 associate degrees and 26 baccalaureate degrees were conferred.
USC Salkehatchie Dean Dr. Ann Carmichael said the branch with campuses in Allendale and Walterboro is celebrating 50 years of providing higher education to the lowcountry. She also said there have been over 5,000 graduates from Salk in those 50 years.
“Our graduates validate our slogan – you can start here and go anywhere,” said Dr. Carmichael.
USC President Dr. Harris Pastides said Friday’s ceremonies were the first of 13 commencement exercises over the next nine days.
“By earning degrees, you have the potential of uplifting the (economic health) of our state,” said Pastides. “You are a vital part of the Indian community and the Gamecock nation.”
Commencement speaker Anita Zuker challenged the graduates to set four ideals, like compass points, before they start their life journey. Those ideals are define yourself, love your family, live life with passion and build a legacy.
She said she is a child of immigrants as well as a daughter, a mother, teacher, CEO, and many other titles. “I, too, went to a two-year community college. I got married when I was 18. We lived in a double-wide trailer.”
She said, “It takes work to become who you want to be. It’s all possible but you have to want it.”
Zuker is currently the chair and chief executive officer of South Carolina-based global conglomerate, The InterTech Group Inc. (TIG) TIG and its affiliates operate in a diverse group of industries ranging from aerospace and specialty chemicals to real estate and entertainment.
Zuker said loving her family “ignites the fire to stand up and fight” when times get bad. She told the grads to “keep your family close.”
She said living life with passion includes experiencing the “pleasure of living to serve.”
To build a legacy, “you must face your fears head-on,” said Zuker, relating how her mother survived Nazi atrocities in World War II Poland.  “Live life like a survivor.”
She said deeds, not words, will define a person but to also stay grounded by remaining “aware of the sacrifices” it took to achieve.
She said success also requires service but she has found much satisfaction in serving others.
“I embrace the opportunity to lead,” said Zuker. “I seek the opportunity to lead.”
She encouraged the grads to “wake up and live your dreams!”
Following Zuker’s speech and the recognition of award recipients, each one of the graduates heard their names called. They began their newest journey with a walk across the stage before university officials, family and friends to receive congratulations on reaching a major milestone – earning a degree.