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Louisiana Tech celebrates student success, nation’s first cyber engineering graduates

— Spring commencement speaker urges graduates to “make a difference, take risks” —

Eight hundred thirty-six students received diplomas, including eight dual degrees awarded, Saturday from Louisiana Tech University, including its first fully online English master’s graduate and the nation’s first five graduates in cyber engineering.

Keynote speaker Dr. Kamal Jabbour, a senior Air Force scientist, said Louisiana Tech President Les Guice had the vision to create the trailblazing cyber engineering program for the future.

Dr. Kamal Jabbour offered words of encouragement and inspiration Saturday to the 836 spring graduates at Louisiana Tech.

Dr. Kamal Jabbour offered words of encouragement and inspiration Saturday to the 836 spring graduates at Louisiana Tech.

“Three years ago, Louisiana Tech University admitted several students into the nation’s first cyber engineering program,” Jabbour said. “Today we celebrate the first graduates from this program. Thank you, Dr. Guice, for your leadership and for recognizing and securing the future.”

Jabbour encouraged all graduates to make a difference in the world.

“As you forge ahead in your careers, be mindful of the difference between wanting to become someone and seeking to do something,” Jabbour said. “To be, or to do, this is the question. I urge you to aim to do something important with your education, and this may require you to take risks.”

Jabbour serves as principal scientific authority and independent researcher in information assurance, including defensive information warfare and offensive information warfare technology. His primary role with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is to conceive, plan and advocate major research and development activities.

During his remarks, Jabbour also encouraged graduates to take risks while they are young.

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice congratulates a new graduate during spring commencement.

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice congratulates a new graduate during spring commencement.

“Do not go through life as spectators,” he said. “Do not aim to be someone important; take risks and seek to do something significant. As you seek to do significant things, let your core values guide your path. In the United States Air Force that I serve proudly, we instill in our airmen three fundamental and enduring core values to guide their lives, their choices and their decisions: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.”

Graduate Stuart Murray understands about risks. Murray, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, graduated Saturday and is the first student to graduate with a master’s in English while taking all of the coursework online.

“I was looking for an online option due to my busy work schedule as a proposal manager,” Murray said. “I saw where Tech offered an online-option graduate certificate in technical writing and communication, which was a good fit for me professionally, and then decided once I’d completed that piece, to go on and finish the master’s degree program. The low cost of out-of-state tuition for online students made it an easy choice.”

Murray said that balancing work and school had been tough but well worth it.

“The best part is the sense of accomplishment,” he said. “I had finished my undergrad degree 20 years ago and had always wanted to go on to get a master’s degree, but between work and being a single parent for quite a few years, it wasn’t in the cards at the time. Being able to take classes online made reaching that goal a lot easier, and I was at a point in my career to make it happen.”

Dr. Dorothy Robbins, coordinator of graduate studies in English, said Murray completed his technical writing certification and then decided to continue his studies to complete his MA in English.

“Stuart Murray is simply a stellar student,” Robbins said. “He has been in three of my online courses, and his work is outstanding.

“One of the benefits of an online degree, of course, is the flexibility. One of the deficits, honestly, is not interacting face to face. The latter is why we — graduate faculty and campus graduate students — are so thrilled that Stuart Murray and his wife are flying in to attend his graduation ceremony. Although we feel like we know Stuart as an intelligent, dedicated, personable student and genuinely decent guy through our virtual interactions, to meet him finally in person will be a joy.”

Jabbour said graduates should remain true to their values, seek perfection and deliver excellence in all their work.

“Nobody owes you anything,” he said. “You must earn everything the hard way, the working way…Go forth and run with endurance the race set before you.”

Graduation served as the official end of spring quarter. Summer quarter classes at Louisiana Tech begin Wednesday, June 3.

Written by Judith Roberts – jroberts@latech.edu