TROY - U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Fernandez "Frank" Ponds encouraged those gathered for the closing session of the Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month to give great consideration to their legacy.
The conference, co-sponsored by Troy University and the City of Troy, concluded Saturday on the University's Troy Campus with a closing luncheon that featured an awards presentation to two TROY seniors and Ponds' keynote address.
"In the corporate world and in the military, we have a concept in which we put great stock – value proposition," Ponds said. "Stated simply, your value proposition is what you are known or recognized for. Today, I challenge you to step up and ask yourself, 'what is your value proposition?' What do you want to be known for, recognized for and, ultimately, remembered for?"
Ponds reminded conference participants that actions and not merely words send as much powerful messages to others. He challenged participants to treat their legacy with great care and consideration.
"Your legacy is a lot like what you put on the internet, it is always out there for all to see," Ponds said. "Be mindful of what you say and do and what you leave behind for others to see and remember."
Ponds challenged the young people in the audience to "keep dreaming."
"Don't ever stop dreaming, but don't stop with just a dream," he said. "Have a plan, follow that plan and take the action necessary to assure that your dreams come true."
Ponds, a native of Autaugaville, is commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, assuming the post in 2013. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three), Meritorious Service Medal (five), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various service and campaign awards.
Earlier during the session, Troy University seniors Courtney Hunter, an elementary education major from Eufaula, and Ben Martin, an economics major from Tuscaloosa, were honored with Student Leadership Awards for their work and example in the classroom, on campus and in the community.
The Conference opened Friday night with a keynote address by award-winning actor and bestselling author Hill Harper and continued Saturday morning with plenary sessions for students and adults featuring Sheyann Webb-Christburg, a Civil Rights activist from Montgomery; Patricia Barnes, founder of Sister Schubert; Dr. Carl Cunningham, Jr., director of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of South Alabama; Mitch Steed, founder of Physiques by SUSO of Troy; and Dr. Jasmine Younge, founder and chief operating officer of Havah-Younge, Inc. of Atlanta.