Petraeus tells GGC graduates: 'You are walking on untrodden ground'

U.S. Central Command Commander David H. Petraeus reminded the 38 students graduating from Georgia Gwinnett College today that they are walking on untrodden ground and future generations of GGC graduates will stand on their shoulders as they write history.

U.S. Central Command Commander David H. Petraeus reminded the 38 students graduating from Georgia Gwinnett College today that they are walking on untrodden ground and future generations of GGC graduates will stand on their shoulders as they write history.

“In the military we celebrate the legacies, the traditions and the histories of our units . . . We follow in the footsteps of those who came before us and build on the history that they helped us write,” Petraeus told the graduates. “For Georgia Gwinnett College, history lies ahead, not behind. Indeed, for those of you graduating today, yours are the shoulders on which future generations of GGC graduates will stand.

“As those of you graduating today move on from Georgia Gwinnett College, you have the opportunity to help define its character, its culture, its hallmarks. And as you go about doing that, I would urge you to keep in mind the wisdom in Teddy Roosevelt’s assertion that ‘far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’”

The commencement ceremony is the college’s third since the college opened in 2006, and the largest class in the institution’s history. The students received degrees in business administration, psychology and biology.

“What a great experience,” graduate Brian Rainey of Gainesville said. “Having General Petraeus here at our graduation ceremony is such an honor and privilege – one that will not soon be forgotten. It is my experience that anything can happen at Georgia Gwinnett and I think we proved it today by getting one of the most influential men in the world onto our campus.”

During his address to the graduates and some 1,500 relatives, friends and special guests, Gen. Petraeus encouraged them to serve their communities in the commercial sector, the local political arenas, on the health care front or in the educational arena.

“In fact, I would submit now, more than ever, our nation needs leaders and ‘world changers’ in its civilian ranks. The many pressing challenges we face – from reviving the economy to overcoming poverty, from achieving renewable energy to improving American education – demand young leaders who will provide energy, commitment and example.

“Take the knowledge and experience you’ve acquired here at GGC back to your communities with an eye toward serving the greater good. Invest in those around you, wherever you work and whatever your career. In so doing, you will help this be the hallmark of GGC graduates – that they invest in work worth doing.”

Gen. Petraeus was invited to speak to the graduates earlier this year by his long-time friend and GGC’s President Daniel J. Kaufman, a retired Army brigadier general. Gen. Petraeus and Dr. Kaufman taught together at West Point, and Gen. Petraeus frequently refers to Kaufman as his mentor.

“What I have learned through my association and friendship with Dave over the years is that the people of the United States are fortunate indeed to have an officer of such strategic vision and personal integrity in their service in this most difficult of times,” Dr. Kaufman said in his introduction of Gen. Petraeus.

Gen. Petraeus left the graduates with these words: “As you head out on “untrodden ground,” I encourage you to blaze a trail of Georgia Gwinnett graduates who, generation after generation, enter the arena with determination, energy and commitment.”

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