He encouraged the students to “… Dream big. You know what God has placed in your heart. Don’t be afraid to try. Anybody can settle for mediocrity. That’s easy. You however, are destined for greatness. Be strong and courageous.”
Harper offered particular congratulations to those who were the first people in their families to obtain higher education. “God has great things planned for you,” he said.
Harper recommended the graduates read the Old Testament book of Nehemiah for guidance on leadership. The book provides instruction on identifying a project, laying out a plan, involving those in authority to help, getting friends’ cooperation, addressing naysayers and adversaries and dividing strengths between offense and defense and finishing the task, he said.
“Leaders plan ahead,” Harper said.
Starkville Daily News
The first-term Republican from Pearl was the university’s featured speaker for the weekend’s sole commencement ceremony. Though not all chose to participate in the Humphrey Coliseum program, some 1,200 students received degrees at fall semester’s conclusion.
“You are extremely fortunate to be a graduate of Mississippi State University,” Harper said. “Mississippi State is one of the finest and most respected universities in the country. The research and development work here is second to none. You will make more money and be more successful over the life of your career if you maintain your network of friends and stay involved with its alumni groups.”
“Greatness does not just happen,” Harper added. “Leaders plan ahead.”