That's a key to success in school and in life, former state representative Bessie Moody-Lawrence told a gymnasium of Clinton Junior College students on Wednesday.
She commended several students for receiving science scholarships, then asked the crowd: Having trouble with science? "Find them. Form a partnership, study groups."
Instead of being bored on Saturday, she said, start a basketball league. Need help and resources? Form partnerships with school administrators.
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"Make partnerships," she said. "Don't stand back and watch classmates fail."
Moody-Lawrence was the guest speaker at the school's convocation, an annual ceremony to begin a new academic year and welcome faculty and students.
The event included encouraging words from the school's leaders, performances by the college choir and prayers led by honor students Tremel Bynum and Samantha Dunham.
Clinton Junior College begins its 117th year with newly renovated residence halls and higher enrollment. The student body has grown 93 students to 141 in the past three years. Classes started Aug. 24 at the two-year liberal arts college off Crawford Road.
During Convocation, school President Elaine Copeland named 10 students who received scholarships covering tuition and living expenses.
The money is part of a nearly $2 million federal award the school received to expand its science program and launch a research project seeking ways to clean polluted water. Copeland also plans to use the money to build a new science lab, update equipment, hire staff and develop new courses.
Clinton is one of nine historically black colleges and universities in South Carolina and Georgia to win the money from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Moody-Lawrence, a former public school and university educator, encouraged students to take advantage of such opportunities.
"Plant your seed of passion for learning," she said. "Do more than what is asked."
And don't make excuses.
She recalled a whopper she heard often as a teacher.
"One of the excuses they would make is 'My grandma died,'" she said.
Whenever she heard that, Moody-Lawrence made a note.
"By the third time they came with that excuse, I'd say 'Well how many grandmas do you have?'"
Moody-Lawrence shared details with the students about her four-year battle with breast cancer, from which she's recovering.
"That's why I give thanks to the Lord," she said to applause.
She invoked Clinton's history and slave lineage.
"They had the vision that somebody like you would come along ... and need an education. Here we are today, still standing."