Alum, former administrator tells students: ‘Don’t stop now’


NEW ORLEANS (April 11, 2013)-Using the refrain, “Don’t stop now,” state Rep. Patrick Jefferson urged students at Dillard’s Honors Convocation on March 26 to be “ready, prepared and willing” to reach their goals and make a difference.

Jefferson, a 1999 Dillard graduate who represents District 11, was keynote speaker in Lawless Chapel for the occasion honoring students with 3.2 and above grade-point averages for spring 2012 and fall 2012.

Jeffersonquoted former Morehouse University President Benjamin Elijah Mays, saying, “The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.

“It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.

“Not failure, but low aim is sin.”

Jefferson reminded students that choices lie between birth and death – such as whether to party or study and whether to skate through or soar through – along with “some forks in the road and knives in the back, but don’t stop now.”

He said everyone must learn to think for themselves; love, honor and obey your parents; and be wary of so-called friends.

He added, “There is a clear and present danger in following the crowd. In doing what everybody else is doing, you can be guilty only by association…The root of education encourages you to continue to educate, explore empower and learn to think for yourselves.”

The legislator said recognition at the program “represents that you have labored, questioned, sacrificed and, no doubt, along the way, you have chipped a tooth or two, scraped your knees, fell down a few times, shed a pound or two, lost a little sleep, left a friend or two behind.”

Even so, he said, honored students have shown themselves to be determined, and “Don’t stop now.”

Jefferson cited current issues facing America, gun violence, global warming, constitutionality of same-sex marriage, North Korea arms, education and tax reform, increasing student loan debt, conflict in the Middle East, and still the challenge of the “color lie.”

He asked students to live life with passion “because passion is power.” He called for civility and character, noting, “America, Louisiana, Dillard and your families are all depending on you.”

Some 155 students were listed on the Dean’s List with 3.5 or higher in fall 2012, with 180 listed on the honor roll with 3.2-3.49. In spring 2012, 130 students were on the Dean’s List, with another 147 on the honor roll. Seniors lined up at 10:45 to march in along with honored students.

Jefferson, a native of Arcadia, served as an administrative assistant to former President Samuel Dubois Cook from 1994-1998 and as dean of students from 1998-2001. A lawyer who was elected to the Louisiana House in 2011, he also serves on the Board of Supervisors for the Southern University System. He also is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.