The weather was cold and rainy on the day of Fall Commencement, but the atmosphere inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium was cheery and energetic, as graduates and their families received an early gift this holiday season. Earning a degree is not only a gift that keeps on giving; It keeps on inspiring.
Brig. Gen. Milford “Beags” Beagle Jr., commanding general of the U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Jackson, delivered the commencement speech to the fall 2019 graduating class. Beagle is a 1990 distinguished military graduate of SC State. The Enoree, South Carolina native was inducted into SC State’s U.S. Army ROTC Hall of Fame in 2018.
Beagle’s address to his fellow Bulldogs was straightforward and poised, offering words of advice that moved graduates and other members of the audience.
He expressed to the graduates that although they might not remember what he spoke about that day, he hopes that they will confidently embark on their journey beyond college and acknowledge their value.
“The first thing is that you will struggle to define success. If you don’t have an idea right now, it will take you a long time to figure it out. Your degree is not success. It demonstrates what you’ve done. It says nothing about what you have the potential to do,” Beagle said. “The only thing you have to decide before you walk outside those doors, is will you be of value? You have to convince yourself that you will be valued no matter where you go (and) no matter what you do.”
Beagle said that through his experience in the military, he has learned that people in the U.S. Army are promoted based on what they have the ability to do. He also emphasized the distinction between being busy and being productive.
“Here’s thing number two. Busy will keep you submerged in the sea of average. I ask people how they are doing and they respond with ‘man I’m busy.’ Busy is the new badge of honor. Look up the definition. It says ‘having a lot to do.’ It says nothing about getting a lot done. Bees are busy. Ants are busy. Activity does not equal productivity. A lack of time is a lack of priorities. Busy people simply run out of time, but time is your most precious resource. It’s also your most unforgiving. Once you lose it, you will never get it back.”
He asked the graduates if they will be among the people who know how to prioritize.
“The choice is yours. You can live your life having a lot to do, or you can live your life getting a lot done. If you don’t have priorities, you will be just another busy person.”
The third key point Beagle discussed is the importance of staying dedicated to progress. He said that while he consistently makes strides to improve, there is a peer who is doing even more.
“Be willing to chase that ghost. Do you want your days to dictate you by keeping you active, or do you want to dictate your days by being productive? When you walk out of those doors, are you willing to chase that ghost that they call perfection? You’re never going to catch it. That’s the funny part of it, but you always got to be in pursuit. As a graduate of this institution, I wish you the best in your future endeavors. You are prepared,” Beagle said.
“Opportunity is not going to call you, and opportunity is not going to send you a text. You simply have to go get it.”
Beagle holds master’s degrees from Kansas State University and the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.His combat and operational experience include Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq; Operation Inherent Resolve, Iraq; and Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. He received various awards and decorations, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Expert Infantryman’s Badge and Pathfinder Badge.