After the “Pomp and Circumstance" and the words of wisdom from speakers and college administrators at Montana State University-Northern’s graduation Saturday, they got down to the real business at hand.
Chancellor James Limbaugh told the crowd at the Armory Gymnasium that he would present the 300-plus graduates with their degrees — ranging from certificates to associate's, bachelor's and master’s degrees.
Then he issued the obligatory request. "Please withhold your applause until the last graduate has crossed the stage."
Ever the realist, Limbaugh quickly added, "Now you and I both know you're not going to do that."
"There are stories of sacrifice, perseverance and hard work on this stage," he said. "So scream your hearts out," he implored. "Just keep it down to a few nanoseconds. We want to get out of here before Thursday."
The crowd followed the chancellor's advice and offered applause, whoops, cheers and an occasional "go Mom," as graduates came forward to get their degrees from Provost Roslyn Templeton.
After the last graduate crossed the stage, a loud cheer broke out.
Limbaugh asked the graduates to stand and applaud their parents, friends and Havre residents who had supported them over the years. They complied.
That completed the traditional commencement services that began when faculty member Kevin Johnson, accompanied by two student marshals led the procession as organist Sharon Dolph played traditional graduation music. Johnson carried the college's mace newy designed to mark the beginning of a new era at Northern.
The Montana Army National Guard presented the colors, and the Rev. Edroy Curtis offered the invocation.
Limbaugh offered graduates nine tips on how to survive in the world, including, "listen to your heart, Your heart will know what's best for your long before your head does."
And finally, he advised, "know that you will always have a home here at Northern."
Guest speaker Lawrence Romo, director of the U.S. Selective Service, said hew as especially pleased to speak, since he is one of 13,700 alums, having received his master's in education degree from Northern.
He said he brought three goals to the Selective Service when he was nominated in 2009 by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He advised graduates to follow the same general ideas as they enter the private or public sector:
• Take care of the mission at hand.
• Take care of your employees. "Communication should be a two-way street," he said. "None of the my-way-or-the-highway attitude."
• "Take care of the taxpayers' or the company's dollars."
By following those principles, he said, "we chanced the Selective Service System from the worst small agency to one of the best" in terms of employee morale.
He told graduates that they would learn to follow before they learn to lead in their new professions, but advised them to learn from their leaders — to emulate good leaders and learn what not to do from bad leaders.