Grads told to welcome adversity


Watch the fall commencement

The graduates, many fresh from balancing work, family and higher education, were familiar with the speaker's subject: adversity. What they may not have expected was his contention that it's to be rejoiced in rather than feared.

So said Larry Powell, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, to 237 graduates, their family and friends during fall commencement December 12 in the Special Events Center.

Among those receiving degrees were students from two new programs. Alicia Hinton, Fresno, was the first to earn a J.D. from San Joaquin College of Law and a master's in peacemaking and conflict studies from FPU through the first such cooperative program in the nation.

On the undergraduate side, the first five graduates of the B.A. degree completion program in criminology and restorative justice were Denise Doyle, Fresno; Roxanne Farias, Fresno; Stuart Jensen, Clovis; Rafael Kasdorf, Reedley; and Nicole Magano, Pinedale.

Adversity is a synonym for opportunity, according to Powell. "What we truly are comes out when we go through difficult times."

One visual made the point. Pulling out a $20 bill, Powell asked who wanted it. Many applauded. He then crumpled the bill, dropped it on the stage and stepped on it, all the while asking people if they were still interested.

At last, he gave the straightened money to one of the soon-to-be-grads. "No matter what happens to you, you never lose your value," Powell said.

Powell is in his 38th year in public education. A Fresno County native, he has a B.A. from California State University, Fresno, and an M.A. from FPU, where he is a member of the board of trustees. Powell has served the Sanger, Fresno and Central Unified School districts.

Powell has received Superintendent of the Year honors from the Association of California School Administrators Region 9.