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KNOXVILLE — Rep. Zach Wamp spoke of relationships, giving, and determination as he delivered the keynote address at the University of Tennessee Spring Commencement ceremony here Saturday.

Spring 2004 Commencement Speaker Rep. Zach Wamp

Wamp, who represents Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District in Congress, praised outgoing UT president Joe Johnson for his dedication to the university. He also pledged his support for incoming president John Petersen, who takes office July 1.

“Dr. Petersen, we are committed with you to moving the University of Tennessee into the top 25 in research in this country,” Wamp said. “UT and the Oak Ridge Federal Complex are the engines of the Tennessee Valley Technology Corridor, which just this week was named as one of the three finalists for a top national economic development award.

“This kind of technology advancement always happens around institutions of higher learning like the University of Tennessee.”

Wamp told the graduates that although they earned their degrees individually, they can do so much more through group effort.

“Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said that a small group of committed and dedicated people can change the world, and in fact, it’s the only thing that ever has,” Wamp said.

“I would encourage you, as you go out equipped with your education, to make sure you are surrounded by a small group of people that is committed to your best interests.”

Wamp asked the graduates to be grateful for what life has given them, and to give of themselves as much as they can.

“Professional golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez has a saying: ‘Takers eat well, but givers sleep well.’ Whether you leave here today to make a profit, or to go into public service, I challenge you to dedicate yourselves to the principle of ‘I am going to give more than I take.'”

The world is hard, Wamp said, and it takes determination in order to succeed.

“We’ve heard all our lives that love covers a multitude of sins, and I believe that,” Wamp said. “But I would also say that determination covers a multitude of shortcomings. If you really want something bad enough, you can get it.

“I ask you to take this diploma into the world, give of yourself in a meaningful way, persevere in all that you attempt, surround yourself with a small group of friends, and you will achieve the success you deserve.”

About 2000 graduates were scheduled to attend Saturday’s ceremony.