Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant told graduates at his alma mater that he wants them to "rise up and do great things."
Bryant spoke Friday during two commencement ceremonies at the University of Southern Mississippi's main campus in Hattiesburg.
The Republican has been governor since January 2012. He is a 1977 graduate of USM, with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Bryant says Mississippi has overcome great adversity, from the Civil War through Hurricane Katrina and even through the F-4 tornado that caused damage in Hattiesburg and the surrounding area in February.
He says USM researchers have helped attract industry to the state.
GE Aviation recently opened a manufacturing plant in Ellisville, and polymer science research developments from USM will be used in items produced by the company.