PARKERSBURG - About 300 members of the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Class of 2012 received their degrees Saturday.
Speaking at the ceremony was Michael Fulton, president of the Arnold Agency in Washington, D.C., a Wood County native and a 1977 graduate of WVU-P.
Dr. Marie Foster Gnage, president of WVU-P, said 311 students graduated and 370 degrees were granted.
Fulton said WVU-P holds a special place in his heart having graduated 35 years ago.
"As I look back I really owe this place a great deal," he said. "For this is the place where I made some critical choices in my life and how to improve myself. It was here at WVU-P where I became prepared to make some of my most life-changing decisions and choices."
Fulton said he was not ready to go to a four-year college and credits WVU-P for giving him the incentive to make wise choices and live out his dreams that surpassed anything he dreamed of as a high school student.
"There are three very important common sense pieces of advice that I can share with you." he said. "These simple guideposts have never let me down."
Fulton said the first was to get involved and become a leader. He said before college he never took any leadership role in any organization or club but he was given the opportunity to be vice president of the student body and editor of the WVU-P Chronicle. After moving to Washington, D.C., he got involved in leadership roles in the school's alumni organization and on the national board.
"You get back what you put into an organization," he said.
Second, he said the roadway of life may not always take you where you want to go, but actually that's where it sometimes gets exciting. Fulton said he worked in newspapers in school and worked two summers at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
"As a senior at the WVU School of Journalism I had a reporter's job all but locked up at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel," he said. "But something happened one day that changed all of that."
Fulton said his adviser insisted he interview for a congressional staff assistant position. At that time Fulton said he had not though of leaving the state but he took a look at the position.
"I could see possibilities I could not see before," he said. "I took that huge leap of faith and I took the road to the nation's capital. My career shifted from reporting the news to actually making and shaping the news."
Third, he said it is all about people.
"Look around you now and remember your classmates and your faculty members," he said. "For many years I took a lot of folks I went to school with and who taught me for granted, but now some of those people are my dearest friends and business associates."
When one picks a job, he said it's not always about the job description, title or salary, it's about the people there.
"We are all looking for colleagues and bosses who are supportive of us, who are passionate about their work and its impact on society and are true to their word.
"Finding these opportunities are far more valuable than a few dollars a year," he said.