Dr. Wiley Cash gave the 109 graduates of Alderson-Broaddus College something they desired Saturday, that being a short keynote address during commencement exercises, but not before imparting a little advice.
"Enjoy the feeling of being disconnected," the best-selling author said. "Leave your cell phone at home. I dare you. The world will go on."
He also urged the Class of 2013 to embrace silence, telling them to turn off their car radios, their televisions and to listen only to the "silence of your thoughts."
Cash said when people are young, they worry about what they are going to do with their lives and where they are going to do it. When they get older, they become concerned with what they did, who they were and where they were when it happened.
With that thought, he told the graduates they should "hold on to this day as long as you can.
"We forget about now," he said. "We forget to listen to the world around us. Look around, not at the world that was, not at the world that will be, but at the world that is now."
Expressing his elation at being asked to speak to the final graduating class of A-B College before it becomes a university in the fall, Cash joked with the students that in attending high school, college and graduate schools, he has been at four of his own graduations.
"I was shocked to be invited to any of those, and I was a student," he said.
Cash said the question most often asked to someone who has just received a college degree is what are the plans for the future.
"You thought I was going to say, when are you going to move out (of your parents' house), get those trophies and certificates out of the attic," he laughed. "Those things never leave. Archaeologists will recover those things one day."
College officials conferred four honorary degrees, one of which was bestowed upon Cash.
Barbara Sims was honored with a Doctor of Humanities degree for her long-time work with the A-B College speech and debate teams, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Willis was honored with a Doctor of Divinity for his ministry and mission work, and the college bestowed a surprise honorary degree on college president Richard Creehan.
In the short time Creehan has been at the helm of the college, enrollment has dramatically increased. The college welcomed its largest freshman class in school history last fall, and officials believe that record will be easily erased when the new freshmen arrive on campus later this year.