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Anna Katherine Fuller graduated Saturday during the 316th Commencement at Louisiana Tech University.

Louisiana Tech University closed out its spring quarter Saturday with keynote speaker John Hofmeister, founder and chief executive for Citizens for Affordable Energy and former president of Shell Oil Company, reminding the 861 graduates that receiving their degrees from Tech has helped shape their worldview, their flow with life and their balance.

“The world is a huge, evolving and churning set of opportunities, rife with challenges, of course, but the opportunities matter most,” Hofmeister said. “From today, use a native Louisiana gift. You cannot see the fullness of the Louisiana landscape if your eyes are open but a slit.  You also can’t see the world that way.  ‘Eyes wide open’ is necessary to see and value your beautiful region and state and is also practical advice to keep your worldview as real as you can. If you can somewhat see the entire world from the base of Louisiana Tech, imagine what more you can see now that you are moving beyond the periphery of this gateway to the world.”

Hofmeister said their flow was the dynamic that enabled the graduates to be whatever they wanted to be while maintaining their energy and constancy for the whole of their lives.

“You likely learned it here, even if you didn’t know what to call it,” he said. “It is the capacity to not only run the race but to enjoy running. It is the capability to read everything you need to read to complete that last research paper and to wake up tomorrow and read some more.

“Flow is the intention to earn not just this degree today, but your determination to also earn the next one, or to take on the challenge of the new job awaiting you, or finding that job, or the next promotion and the next step in life.  It is the power to face the Louisiana weather, climb the next hill, walk down the aisle, get up and go to work, get out and go to vote, love your loved ones, raise your family, overcome all obstacles that come your way. Louisiana Tech is alive with flow. It’s capable of infecting you forever, and you’ll be forever grateful.”

Hofmeister said the graduates had learned how to keep balance in school, which would help them keep their balance in life.

“Keeping your balance in life is also the foundation of success in life,” he said. “But let’s take it a step deeper.  You’re now on your own, not on campus. What balance do you keep? 

Let’s focus on the four that matter: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. You have but one body; take care of it.  Your mind is your best friend, your judge and life-long companion.  Your emotions keep you whole.  Your spirit keeps you strong.  Together they keep you together, for the rest of your life.”

Tara Harmon-McElheney, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, maintained her balance throughout studying for her doctorate in audiology, which she received Saturday. A week before her Ph.D. program began, she discovered she was pregnant with her first child. Her daughter is now three, and she is expecting her second child in September.

“My husband and I were like, ‘What are we going to do?’ But he said, ‘This is something you’ve always wanted,’” Harmon-McElheney said.

She said it hadn’t always been easy, but the reward was worth the effort.

“It’s been hard,” she said. “I had her on a Thursday and went back to school on a Monday. (My classmates) helped, and my professors helped tremendously.”

She said she would advise other students, undergraduate and graduate, to continue to persevere with their studies.

“If you want it badly enough, with dedication, you can do it,” she said. “It takes a lot of discipline, but it’s worth it.”

Nick Fulco, of Benton, also learned balance while at Tech.  He graduated with a bachelor of science with a major in kinesiology and plans to attend physical therapy school.

“It was close to home,” he said. “My stepfather was deployed, and it was easy to drive back and forth to take care of my mom and little sister.”

Fulco’s stepfather, Major Christopher Summers, is also a Tech graduate and is currently deployed to Qatar. However, he was able to watch Fulco graduate on a live stream through www.latechtv.com.

“The hardest part was keeping a high GPA while trying to take care of family and social responsibilities,” he said. “I did it by a lot of studying and time management.  It’s hard work, but it pays off in the end.”

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