The Centenary College Choir performed “You Are the New Day,” at the college’s opening convocation Tuesday. It heralded the start of a new academic year and served as a ceremonial welcome to the incoming freshmen at the private liberal arts college in Shreveport.
Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike at Barksdale Air Force Base, delivered the opening address to the Class of 2019 numbering 158 students.
During the 10-minute speech, the four-star general encouraged students to pursue college with integrity and hard work, not “half-stepping” their education, as he put it. Rand oversees the country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles cache and nuclear-capable bombers. He told the youthful audience in Brown Chapel to treat peers with dignity and respect.
“My wife, Kim, often reminds me to just be kind. Words to live by, gang. Our world and this college will be a better place if we heed this advice,” Rand said, with students, professors and a trio of local college presidents and businesspeople in the audience.
The career Air Force pilot said college is a privilege that many people around the world will never enjoy. He told students to be grateful and to thank their parents or the people in their life who made it possible.
“I serve with thousands of quality men and women your age. While there are a variety of reasons why they join the U.S. Air Force, a recurring theme is they want a chance to pursue a college education and simply don’t have the financial means to do so,” Rand said.
Rand assumed command of Air Force Global Strike on July 28. It consists of about 23,000 personnel assigned to six wings. This was his first public speech in Shreveport-Bossier.
Rand has served in the Air Force for 36 years after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he told students with a laugh, he was on the “other dean’s list” characterized by “underwhelming prowess.”