The word “diversity” is thrown around a lot on college campuses, but when Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond used it in a talk at UGA on Sept. 8, he wasn’t talking about race. He was talking about thoughts.
“If you’re going to be successful in life, you have to expand your comfort zone, and I am the best example of someone who had to expand their comfort zone,” he said to a packed house at the eighth annual Founders Award Scholarship Luncheon sponsored by the Black Faculty and Staff Organization.
“The world is made in a unique way. The successes we seek in life are rarely found close by,” he said. “If you want to be a famous doctor, own a prosperous business or find a cure for cancer, I submit to you that you will not find an answer on your neighbor’s back porch. Never allow your fears to overpower your dreams. Never allow your biases to overpower your hopes and your ambitions.”
A native of Athens, Thurmond shared stories about watching the town and UGA change throughout his lifetime
“This university is evolving. I grew up in Athens and it used to be a major issue for me and my friends to even walk across this campus. In fact it would’ve been a crime to do so. I look at the young scholars here today, and I can say without any doubt whatsoever that we are making progress,” he said. “We’ve come a long way but none of us should believe or confuse ourselves with the idea that somehow we’ve arrived and that we still do not have a long way to go. This is an evolution. It is moving from where we were to where we are to where we need to go.”
The event also recognized five scholarship recipients. Undergraduates Brianna Randall and Jonathan Jones, graduate student Jacquelyn Ryan Duncan and professional students Amber Jenkins and Christopher Stokes took home checks to help continue their education at UGA. The scholarships are paid for by tickets to the luncheon and sponsored by BFSO.