I was honored Aug. 30 to be the keynote speaker at the Lanier Technical College's GED graduation at Free Chapel in Gainesville.
In the 2013 graduating class, there were 641 men and women and nearly 300 participated in the cap and gown ceremony.
Many of the individuals that received their GED did not have a strong support unit growing up.
They had many in their lives that belittled them and discouraged them. My wife's grandmother did not complete high school. She always regretted the fact that she did not have her high school diploma.
Even though she was coming down to the end of her work career she made the decision to attend the adult education facility in Dawson County. Through her hard work and dedication, she graduated with her GED from Lanier Technical College several years ago in her 60s.
It was the proudest moment of her life. My wife and I were blessed to be there to see her receive her diploma.
Mark Twain once said: "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions."
My wife's grandmother was able to channel her inner-strength and confidence to do what some said was foolish, or even impossible.
She was like Shannon Miller when she said:
"Other people may not have had high expectations for me, but I had high expectations for myself."
I encouraged the graduates to stay away from those that would belittle their ambitions.
We must refocus our efforts in our middle schools, high schools and adult education facilities to emphasis the importance of technical education.
This is important, because whether it is to decrease the prison population, to decrease spousal abuse or to increase the likelihood of living a long, happy life, nothing seems to be as effective as a good education.
I have to agree with what President Lyndon Baines Johnson said on this topic: "I have learned one great truth. The answer to all our problems comes to a simple word. The word is education."
Education will lead you out of poverty.
It will lead you out of a dependency on the government or others for survival. It will give you independence to go out and to accomplish all your dreams.
Success in life will not come to you from a government welfare check, it will not come to you from a lottery ticket, it will not come to you from depending on your mother, father or other family members for survival, it will not come to you from luck, but it will come from hard work and a good education.
Thomas Jefferson said: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more luck I have."
I encouraged them not to let this be the end of their education.
Education should be a life long journey.
Each of them are in one of the finest technical school regions not only in the state, but in the country.
They can enter technical school today and thanks to HOPE they can do it for little cost. They can earn a technical education and improve their ability to find a high paying job.
Through the efforts of Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia they can attend and complete core classes at Lanier Tech.
Once they have completed 30 hours here and maintained a 3.0 GPA they can transfer those credits to the University of North Georgia College and then receive the HOPE scholarship.
It has never been easier to achieve educational success. I encouraged each of them to take full advantage of these opportunities.
I congratulate each of the graduates on their success. They have had to overcome many obstacles to be sitting where they are today having earned their GED.
I realize they had worked hard and there were probably many times they wanted to give up, but they persevered and succeeded. No one can ever take this moment and this accomplishment away from them.
It is said that "success isn't measured by the position you reach in life; it's measured by the obstacles you overcome to get there."
On Aug. 30 they reached success.
I reminded them that there are still other great accomplishments that wait in their future.
There are still obstacles in their path that they will have to work to overcome.
There are other mountains that need to be climbed and there are other successes to be had.
Their future is bright and they have only started the climb.
Mary Kay Ash once said that: "Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try."
God only gives each of us one opportunity to live this life. I encouraged them to make the best of it and to live life to the fullest. I encouraged them to learn each day and to give back to others every chance they have. I told them that when they come down to the end of their life make sure that they have played every song that is in them. That when they die there wasn't one verse of music left unplayed.
Some of you reading this article may be considering returning to school to obtain your GED or considering going to college or technical school. I would encourage you to go for it. Don't let anyone or anything stop you from going after your dreams. You have numerous resources available to you to in our community.
If you are interested in learning more about your options, call on me.
I am honored to serve as your representative at the State Capitol.
I am always available to assist you and encourage you to contact me with questions or your opinions.
Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached on his cell phone at (678) 776-5059, at the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by e-mail at email@example.com.