63 graduate at Coker College winter commencement
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College conferred degrees on 63 graduates in more than a dozen disciplines Saturday morning.
The college held its winter commencement ceremony at the Harris E. and Louise H. DeLoach Center.
Dr. Hector Flores, president of the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, gave the keynote speech, and Daniel Burton, Class of 2018, delivered a student message.
Flores spoke of his family experience and life in Peru.
“If we believe in this ideal of a lifelong education, in its unending journey of self-discovery, we must also reflect on how it is that we get there,” Flores said. “In the hyper self-centered society that we are in danger of becoming, the largely unquestioned answer is that we arrive at who we are by force of will, by sheer brute and fine sculpting of our lives through the iteration of axing and chiseling, over and over, until we are satisfied with what we look at in the mirror.
“This view is in fact a mythology of achievement that has been culturally conditioned and reinforced through an exaggerated focus on the individual, forgetting the community that helps make the individual. I suggest to you, that for most of us mortals, that is not how we become who we are.
“Education, at its deepest and most sustainable, is not a transaction. It is an intricate and wondrous web of relationships, starting with the relationship we build with and within our evolving selves, moving through the friends we make, the losses life chooses for us, the mentors we choose to embrace and follow.”
“It is at our peril, in this transactional age, that we risk forgetting what is most precious about the durable gift of education, how it enables us to affirm our common humanity and to engage in life-long transformation and reinvention.”
Burton talked about his life at Coker College and how he had the ability to reinvent himself.
He came from the small town of Batesburg-Leesville, population about 5,400 and a high school of 580 students. Burton was a product of having his grandmother as a teacher in the system and an older brother who was senior when he was a freshman.
He related a scene from “Rocky” in which Rocky Balboa is speaking to his son about life and facing adversity:
“…You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”
Burton filed that quote away for his journey through education.
He finished his message by thanking those who had guided him along the way and encouraged his classmates to do the same.