Commencement speaker Jim Anthony encourages the 2010 NGU Graduates to "Carry the Torch."
“When you leave here today, I want you to believe in yourself and believe that you can single-handedly change the world,” said Jim Anthony, founder and president of the Cliffs Communities, in his address to the 152 graduates at North Greenville University’s commencement exercises on Thursday, December 9.
Anthony told the graduates that there are two ways to live their lives; by walking around carrying a candle or carrying a torch and running around with all the excitement, enthusiasm, and passion in their lives. He challenged the graduates to be torch bearers and risk takers and to give everything they have in their undertakings.
Jim Anthony is President and CEO of the Cliffs Communities. He founded the Cliffs Communities in 1991, upon his development of The Cliffs at Glassy, the company’s first of eight master planned communities.
A visionary example, Jim lives according to a philosophy of respect for the integrity of the land, a sense of deep connection to community, and a love of his work. His land preservation efforts and success selling real estate led to his being recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas in 2000 by Ernst & Young, LLP. In 1999, he was named The Most Influential Greenvillian by Greenville Magazine, and was a finalist for Greenville Magazine’s Business Person of the Year. He has since been named to Greenville Magazine’s list of 50 Most Influential People in 2005 and 2006.
Anthony’s personal passion is giving back within the community, and he has been instrumental in The Cliffs’ establishment of several non-profit organizations for philanthropic donations. His personal passion for children’s wellness led him to found Zest Quest in 2004, a non-profit children’s health initiative now in the pilot stages in the South Carolina public school system.
In honor of this level of generosity and for his profound impact upon the community, Jim was given the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Blue Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 2006.
Aside from his many public contributions, Anthony has also been an avid supporter of North Greenville University, funding many campus improvements and providing scholarship opportunities for NGU students.
“You have the basic minimum,” said Anthony. “A degree will create opportunities. Now the learning begins. Continue to learn, accept the challenge, and be a risk taker.
At the conclusion of Anthony’s address, the University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Christian Leadership degree.
“Thank you Jim for being a part of this wonderful ministry at North Greenville University,” said NGU President Dr. Jimmy Epting.
In addition, a special moment in the ceremony was led by Kimberly Dawn Wooten of Taylors as she walked across the stage to accept the degree she had worked for her entire life. Wooten not only graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, but also faced the adversity of everyday life in a body stricken with cerebral palsy.
Wooten proved on Dec. 9 that despite her handicap and restrictions of a wheelchair, her physical disabilities have never proven victorious over her dreams.
Her captivating story demonstrates perseverance and dedication to the life to which God has called her, a life perfectly set in place by His loving purpose.
“I just recently learned how to walk on a walker, and since God has given me that new ability, I wanted to use it to walk across the stage with my classmates,” Wooten said.
This inspiring action exemplifies the hardships she has overcome throughout her life up to this point, showing that no matter the circumstances, she will never cower behind her disability.
“NGU has given me the tools, both educationally and spiritually, and the confidence for the ‘real world.’ My professors have challenged me through my college career to become what God created me to be, including living with my disability. I will be able to defend my faith in Christ because I know the truth and I know He created me perfectly,” said Wooten.
Though her body is disabled and her speech impaired, nothing will ever stop this young lady from fulfilling the Lord’s will in her life. Wooten is not afraid of her disability, and with each determined step she planted on the stage at graduation, she will continue to show the world just how powerful her God truly is.
Thanks to Chip Sloan for the photograph of Miss Wooten. Thanks to Currie Dickerson of NGU's student newspaper The Skyliner, who interviewed Miss Wooten.