Class 64 students don black, gold in graduation ceremony

Fort Bliss

POSTED: Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 8:01pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 8:26pm

Black and gold have been the U.S. Army colors since the American Revolution. Black represents a never-ending search for knowledge and gold, the standard of achievement. Thursday, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy celebrated the 119 students, staff and family members who rose to that standard by taking their place among their fellow warrior-scholars during a black and gold commencement ceremony held in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy presided over the commencement ceremony giving the opening remarks and praising the graduates for their accomplishments. “It is certainly my honor this evening to welcome each of you to this great institution. As if the 10-month curriculum is not challenging enough for our students that come here to educate themselves on how to be a sergeant major, they also took on the additional role of pursuing higher education and a degree,” Malloy said.

“We are very proud of your accomplishments. For those who attended the academy this year, we had a total of 156 of the 499 that will graduate this Friday, which have earned a degree. This evening, we will recognize 119 in this ceremony. I will tell you, our United States Army is in great hands with these excellent leaders.”

The guest speaker for the commencement was retired Command Sgt. Maj. Michelle S. Jones, the former command sergeant major of the Army Reserve and current president and CEO of The Bones Theory Group, LLC.

Jones thanked the academy for inviting her to be the guest speaker and said that she was honored to be addressing the graduating students, universities, colleges and family members. “It is truly an honor to speak tonight. I struggled with the content of what to speak about – words of meaning, words of substance, words that will motivate and encourage you to move forward, words to serve as a catalyst to prepare each and every one of you to take a piece of my message, dissect it, examine it, and determine what you can learn from it. And yes, words that will keep you awake,” she said. “Know what I am going to say is truly from the heart.”

Jones began her address by acknowledging each graduate has an expectation of what his or her degree means and how it will serve them to fulfill their professional success. She cautioned the graduates, however, to not get caught up on titles. Your degree “is not a guarantee that you will get the next position, promotion, or be selected for a position that you want. … This degree gives you an edge. What it will guarantee is that you cannot be denied solely based on not having one,” she said. “Don’t be consumed by the title on the door. Focus on the service you provide, the leadership you provide. How you use your degree for the betterment of someone else.”

Jones then turned her attention to something she said she lives by – the Bone Theory. “We have four bones. The first bone is having a backbone. Stand up and be who you are, not what someone else expects you to be. Have the courage to go against the tide when the tide is going the wrong way. Having the courage to say ‘this is not right; it is not legal, it’s not moral, and it’s not ethical,’” Jones said.

The second bone is the wishbone. Being able to believe, hope and know it is possible. “If you don’t think it can happen, it won’t. It’s not easy,” she said. “Everyone knows and needs a wishbone. You have to believe in it.”

The third bone Jones noted was the funny bone. “Instead of getting mad or getting even, laugh and let it go. Pull out your funny bone,” she said. “Take another avenue of approach and giggle (your) way to success. Your greatest revenge will be your success.”

The final bone Jones mentioned is the tailbone. “Nothing happens if you don’t get off your tail bone and make it happen,” Jones said.

Jones concluded her remarks telling the graduates they should be proud of their accomplishment and reinforced her message of using the degree to enhance others.

“It is one of the greatest characteristics of an exceptional leader. “Work together, not apart. Do tell your subordinates that I will help you to get to where you want to be,” she said. “You are sergeant majors. You are at the top of the food chain. Your position was created for those that you need to lead, not for you. Your individual accomplishments and achievements tell me what you did, but your legacy that you leave tells me how you lived. So, do you have a legacy? Are you creating one? And if you haven’t, you need to start.”

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