Tracy speaks to UT Martin graduates
MARTIN -- Shelbyville resident and former state senator Jim Tracy was graduation speaker at the University of Tennessee at Martin's summer and fall commencement Saturday. Tracy, a UT Martin graduate and West Tennessee native, is now state director for USDA Rural Development.
A total of 375 graduates participated in commencement exercises.
Tracy, senator for the 14th District from 2004-2017 has 24 years' experience as a small-business owner and is a former high school agricultural education teacher.
He challenged graduates to go beyond the milestone of earning a college degree and reach for greater things in life. Tracy focused on the word "pride" and assigned a word to each letter to emphasize his points. Tracy spoke of potential, responsibility, influence, determination and enthusiasm as qualities that build pride in all a person does.
Tracy said each graduate present has potential "whether you're going to be a teacher, whether you're going to be an engineer, whether you're going to be a business owner, whether you're going to go back on the family farm and be involved in agriculture, you have tremendous potential to be the very best you can." He challenged graduates to tap into unrealized abilities and to become involved in public service, noting his own 23-plus years of public service roles. "You're the future of your community or wherever you decide to land," he said.
Tracy said that responsibility includes "being accountable for your actions." He added, "You've taken the responsibility this far to get your degree today. You've got your degree. Now take the responsibility to go forward into your life. Whatever that is in your life to do, take the responsibility to do that." He then noted the importance of using influence properly. "All of you graduating today, you may not realize it ... but you have a tremendous influence on people in your life," he said. "Never forget that you have an influence on peoples' lives, and use that influence."
Tracy's final points emphasized determination and enthusiasm. He advised graduates to set goals no matter the professions they pursue and stay determined to achieve those goals. He closed by noting that having enthusiasm is important to building pride. "Enthusiasm is catching. If you're enthusiastic, you're going to make people around you be enthusiastic. Find something you enjoy to do in this life. Be enthusiastic of what you're doing, have pride in it, enjoy it, live for it, have excitement in what you're doing.
"And if you have excitement in what you're doing, your fellow workers are going to have excitement. You're going to bring enthusiasm. You're going to be a better employee. You're going to be a better citizen. You're going to be a better person. You're going to influence people, so have enthusiasm for what you decide to do," he said.