BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.
"I still keep that LSU pride with me everywhere I go," said Rep. Steve Scalise. "That Tiger blood that runs through me is the same Tiger blood that runs through you," he said. "By earning your diploma, you've accomplished something special and you become part of that family."
Rep. Scalise, an LSU alum, made it clear in his commencement address to the graduates that while accolades matter, it's what you do with your life and the impact you make on others that matters most. Scalise graduated with the bachelor's degree in Computer Science.
"Commencement means a new beginning. For each of you, you have before you a set of opportunities, but you also have enormous responsibilities," the congressman said.
Rep. Scalise reflected back on 11 months ago when he was blindsided while practicing for the long-standing Congressional Baseball Game in Washington, D.C. The congressman said "gunshots rang out."
"I went down, and it was a surreal moment because it's not something you're expecting and at the time, didn't know how bad the wounds were."
The congressman said it wasn't his career that got him through the hard times, but his family and his LSU family.
"When I was fighting for my life... it wasn't' career, titles, or status that I was thinking of, it was the things that matter to me. It was family, my friends," the representative said. "So remember how precious life is. You can't get more of it, but ultimately how you use this time, what you do with it is so important."
With that, Rep. Scalise issued a handful of challenges to the graduates to "find something you love and go do it," maintaining friendships, and to make a difference in the state.
"You'll have opportunities around the country. You'll have opportunities all around the world, but if you have the ability, please stay in Louisiana," the congressman said. "Use these great talents you have to make this a better state."
He also encouraged the graduates to be crusaders for the LSU community. "Always give back," he said. "Give back in any way you can, financially, through the community or service projects. Continue to be a champion for this great university."
LSU said in a press release this spring saw the most degrees ever awarded to African-American students, Hispanic students, Asian students, and veterans. Records were also set for these student groups for the overall 2017-18 academic year as well.
This year's graduating class represents 57 Louisiana parishes, with the oldest graduate being 67-years-old and the youngest 19-years-old. A total of 3,967 degrees were awarded.