Trimester Graduation
Miami Lakes Technical Education Center
Robert B. Ingram, Ph.D.

"Isn't it Strange that Kings and Queens and clowns that caper in saw dust rings and common people like you and me, are builders of eternity - each is given a bag of tools a shapeless mass and a book of rules and each must build or life is flown - a stumbling block or stepping stone."

Good evening, and welcome. It is an honor to be here with such a fine group of graduates at Miami Lakes Technical Education Center.

This school has a history of being one of the best technical education centers in Florida. You know, it's interesting when we talk about history, because history is all very relative in the great scheme of time. Recently The Travel Channel ran a piece about a church in England, where services have been held every day since the church was built. Every day, that is, for the last nine hundred years. That's a lot of history.

Now, definitely Miami Lakes Tech doesn't go back nine hundred years. But it has witnessed 4 presidents from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton and 6 Governors from Ruben Askew to Jeb Bush.

Miami Lakes Tech, as a school, has a history all its own. And it's important, when we speak of history, to remember that it happens because of people like yourselves. Sometimes we tend to look at historical events as larger-than-life happenings, forgetting the role of the people who were involved.

But history is made up of the actions and thoughts of dynamic, vibrant people like our graduates. The American Revolution would not have happened without the involvement of common people such as Crispus Attucks, Paul Revere, or Betsy Ross. The White House, in itself, is just a building, but for this history of people like George Washington, dolly Madison, Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy.

Likewise, Miami Lakes Tech is the product of dynamic, vibrant people like the center's first director, Dr. M. Gene Stansell was assigned total responsibility for planning the new school, which opened its doors in February, 1976 to 400 students

Dr. Stansell dedicated himself to the proposition of making Miami Lakes Tech into the best educational facility possible. Under his direction, the school increased its enrollment from 400 to 2,000 students. Classes were added so that students could attend in the evening, on either a full-time or part-time basis. And several off-campus locations were added to serve the community better. Dr. Stansell knew that in the context of History, "he only had a minute...sixty seconds in it, it was to be forced upon him/ He couldn't refuse it/ He didn't seek it/ He didn't choose it/ But it was up to him to use it/ It was a tiny little minute/ But eternity was in it." In this minute, in this moment in time, we find Mr. Noward Dean, the center's current principal, who has held the position since 1986 and for those 13 years, I'm sure Mr. Dean will agree with me, he and his team also have provided Miami Lakes Tech with a lot of history! Mr. Dean believes that "team work make the dream work" and under his direction, many new programs have been added to provide training in a variety of industrial and technical areas.

The Toyota program is a shining example of one of many of the center's successful programs, training students not only in automotive service and collision repair, but teaching them specific techniques required by the Toyota corporation.

The skills learned here will increase the opportunities available to students as they look for meaningful, productive work. Some of those who are graduating have already been offered full-time opportunities and that is a fine compliment both to them and to this school.

The great success of Miami Lakes Tech has been made possible not only by the hard work of Dr. Stansell and Mr. Dean, but by the efforts of many fine instructors and administrators and thousands of dedicated parents. They share something that those other figures in history had, the same thing that motivated Crispus Attucks, Betsy Ross, Woodrow Wilson, and Dolly Madison, and that thing is commitment.

All of the students and parents, educators and administrators shared a commitment to make Miami Lakes Technical Education Center into a fine school. And for that, their names are rightly included in its history.

Commitment is the fuel that will drive our graduates, on to great things as they venture out to pursue higher education or enter the world of work. To the graduates, only a true commitment to being the best you can be will see you to your goal.

A final note about history: much of it hasn't been written yet. In a very short while, we will turn the page to a new millennium, with a new century of history to write. And you can be a part of that by committing yourself to your education and to your work, by dreaming big and working hard to bring those dreams to fruition. You will have opportunities to give back to your school and to your community, and if you are generous with your talents & your gifts, blessings will come back to you many times over.

To the graduates of the class of '99, good luck and to all best wishes. You have made your families and your community proud of you, and we look forward to hearing of your future success.


My last point in my closing remarks come in the form of a story I once heard about a "Lily".

Someone observed a beautiful Lily growing in the middle of a garbage dump and asked the question,

"Lily, how can you grow in the midst of such a stagnating and stench-filled mess?"

The Lily replied, "Because my roots strive, thrive and are alive below the mess,

My head rises above the mess,

My slender stem grows and glows through the mess,

So even though I'm in the mess, I'm not a part of the mess."

Graduates when you are not a part of the mess - you are able:

To regenerate the Wanderers and the Blunderers.
To resurrect the Outcast and the Down cast.
To Revitalize the Alcohol User and the Drug Abuser.
To rescue the Unwanted and Unfruitful.
To Redress the Unkind and the Unjust.
To Repair the Unlearned and the Unloved.
To Revive the Unmindful and the Unmoved.

When you are not a part of the mess you let commitment run down like water & success like a mighty stream.

So I've stopped by to tell you graduates that I've been young and now I'm old and I've never seen the committed forsaken, nor the successful beg bread.

So run on Graduates and see what the end will be.

Weeping may last for the night.

But if you choose not be become a part of the mess you'll find joy in the morning!

To contact Dr. Ingram, please call 305-995-1340 or e-mail