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AFGSC commander gives commencement address at Louisiana Tech University

  • Published
  • By Carla Pampe
  • Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Gen. Anthony Cotton, gave the commencement address to the Louisiana Tech University College of Engineering and Science May 21 in Ruston, Louisiana.

Cotton, who commands more than 31,000 Airmen providing strategic deterrence, global strike capability and combat support to the nation, told the new graduates they should take time to celebrate their hard work and achievements.

“Whether you earned your bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D., you have fought hard to be here,” he said. “Each of you have conquered your own challenges, and you deserve to be here.  Be proud of what you have accomplished. Congratulations!”

With the college’s focus on engineering and science, the general emphasized that it is an exciting time to be associated with STEM.

“Technology is changing almost daily. Innovations associated with artificial intelligence, robotics, nano-technology, advanced computing, and additive manufacturing are changing the world,” he said. “I’m seeing firsthand how technology is affecting the way we do business in the Air Force. What will the world be like in 20 or even 10 years?  I don’t know, but I do know one thing. You all will be at the forefront of this change, and I hope you are ready and excited.”

With more than 36 years of service in the Air Force, Cotton shared a little of his experience, and the four key character qualities that have gotten him far in his career: competence, commitment, compassion and attitude.

“If you begin to doubt yourself or your abilities, then remind yourself that you did it. You are a Louisiana Tech graduate. If you don’t know something, then you’ve already proven you can study and learn it,” he said. “So take today’s accomplishment and know you are capable of being great in your craft, no matter the job. You will make mistakes and miss the mark sometimes, but learn from your mistakes, correct them, and move forward.  This is operating with competence.”

He told the graduates that no one can be truly competent if they’re not committed to the task at hand.

“You might not love every job you have, but you can certainly learn something from them,” he said. “Whatever you do and wherever you work when you leave here today, be committed to it.”

Cotton added that while competence and commitment will take someone far, everyone is human, and it takes compassion to recognize that you are not perfect and extend the same grace to others.

“Operating with compassion will require you to possess emotional intelligence. Keep your eyes and ears open to your coworkers. Be a mentor or teacher to others who need it,” he said. “You won’t agree with everyone you work with or meet, but always treat people with dignity and respect. A little compassion will go a long way.”

Finally, Cotton told the attendees that none of these character traits mean anything if you don’t have the right attitude.

“You can be competent and have a lousy attitude. In fact, you can be a highly competent person in your field, but many times people would prefer working with a barely competent person with a great attitude over an expert who is abrasive,” he said. “Likewise, you can even show compassion and empathy to others but still have a lousy attitude in other areas of your life, whether on the job or at home. So always balance your competence, commitment, and compassion with a good attitude.”

As he wrapped up, Cotton wished the graduates continued success in their future endeavors.

“Be proud of what you have accomplished. Be you…own it! You’re a Bulldog,” he said. “Be confident that you can and will conquer the many challenges that will come your way, and commit to becoming a master of your craft. It’s okay to reach for the moon, but why not aim for the heavens while you’re at it!”

Following the presentation of diplomas, Cotton administered the oath of office to three Air Force ROTC cadets (one who will commission into the U.S. Space Force) and four Army ROTC cadets who will now serve in their respective services.

“I believe there is no higher calling than to serve your country, and I am extremely proud to administer the oath of office to these cadets who have chosen a path of service,” Cotton said. “I wish them all the very best in their careers and know the future of our military is in extremely good hands.”