Greatness is a choice, and to attain that greatness you have to be willing to a pay a price.
That was the message from the Rev. Twana Harris, a 1999 Lincoln University graduate who was the featured speaker at Thursday's Founders Day Convocation at LU.
Speaking to students, faculty, staff and alumni at the annual event to remember the founders of the university — the soldiers of the 62nd and 65th Missouri Colored Infantry units — Harris said, when she was at LU, her instructors and mentors taught her "greatness was not a grade point average, but it was the realization that our gifts and skills weren't just for us, but they were meant to season the world around us."
Harris said she found she was unexpectedly moved by what she heard from President Donald Trump during his State of the Union speech Tuesday, when he said: "We must choose between greatness or gridlock, and I ask you to choose greatness."
"Never in my little brown life did I think I would quote brother Trump," Harris said. "Even brother Trump acknowledges that greatness is a choice between the mountaintop and the valley. The founders of Lincoln made a choice to establish something that was greater than themselves. Our founders understood that in order to complete this great work, they had to choose community over personal agenda."
LU President Jerald Jones Woolfolk told those gathered at Richardson Fine Arts Center on Thursday that they continue to serve the charge of the founders to make sure students who attend the university are better when they leave it.
"We will never rest on our laurels or live in the past, but rather to continue to grow, to continue to be innovative and to continue to reach for the highest levels of excellence," Woolfolk said.
LU is celebrating its 153rd year of existence; and Kendall Montgomery, a senior marketing major student and chair of the campus activity board, told the crowd LU is still the living embodiment of what the founding soldiers wanted it to be.
"It's much larger than everything they ever imagined," Montgomery said. "They wanted us to understand that if you are willing to do hard work, your dream of a higher education can come true. I am proud to be part of Lincoln University."