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Released May 14, 2004

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ADDRESSES SOUTHERN MISS GRADUATES
AT SPRING 2004 COMMENCEMENT CEREMONIES
By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- Mississippi governor Haley Barbour brought three pieces of advice for University of Southern Mississippi graduates at spring commencement exercises on the university's Hattiesburg campus.

"First, believe in God," Barbour said. "Second, believe in your state and country and third, believe in yourself. I don't think I can give them (graduates) any better advice."

Barbour, a Yazoo City native, was elected governor last November. He received a law degree from Ole Miss in 1973. In the mid-1980s, he served as an adviser to President Ronald Reagan for two years as director of the White House Office of Political Affairs.

From 1993 to January 1997, Barbour served two terms as chairman of the Republican National Committee. He served as one of only 10 members of then-Gov. George W. Bush's National Presidential Exploratory Committee and chaired Bush's Washington Campaign Advisory Committee in 2000.

He founded and formerly served as chair and CEO of Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, which Fortune magazine ranked as the nation's top lobbying firm.

Barbour said he was honored to be the selected speaker for Friday's two ceremonies, which featured approximately 1,200 graduates. A third graduation ceremony will be held Saturday at the university's Long Beach campus, where Gulfport city councilman Billy Hewes, a Southern Miss alum, will be the guest speaker.

He praised the university's commitment to economic development and held it up as a leader among other universities in the state and nation. He likened Mississippi's universities to "gold mines" that, in the past, the state had not done as good a job of "mining" until now, citing Southern Miss' polymer science program for its role in creating new economic opportunities.

"I always use (Southern Miss') Polymer Institute as an example of how our universities can take research and go beyond application to commercialization," he said. "That's being done here (at Southern Miss) and we can do it at other schools in the state, and that should be their mission."

Dustin Mitchell, a senior finance major from Brandon, said he's thrilled to be graduating and is looking forward to life after college. "I'm ready to see what the real world has to offer," he said.

Shauntel Adams of Baton Rouge, La., was also excited about receiving her diploma, but had mixed emotions about her career at Southern Miss coming to a close. She earned a degree in biology, and plans to attend medical school. "I'm relieved (to be graduating) and sad…a little of both."

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May 17, 2004 1:58 PM

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