Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2006-06-21

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, Jr., told 87 of the state's top high school students to know their purpose in life, be humble and "never, never give in," during opening ceremonies for this year's Alabama Governor's School (AGS) at Samford University Sunday, June 18.

Nabers told the rising high school seniors that while they already have the tools and techniques for a successful life, there is another element to success in professional life and peace in their soul: character.

He cited three key elements that can help lead to a rich and abundant life.

First, each person must understand their purpose in life. "If you get the answer to that question, everything else will fall into place. If not, nothing else will," Nabers told the students, noting that their two weeks at AGS will help them find it.

He said that his own daughter, Mary Nabers Doyle, returned home from attending AGS in 1988 and announced that she would be a doctor, which she has done. "Alabama Governor's School gave her the vision for her professional life," said Nabers.

Nabers also told the students to learn to deny themselves, quoting billionaire Warren Buffett's advice to business students that they would succeed unless "their selfish selves" got in the way.

"Debacles in business are usually caused by selfishness," noted Nabers, adding that being selfless does not mean a person can't have high aspirations.

Thirdly, he called for perseverance. "Your character will be developed to the extent that you have faced your challenges," he told the students, who come from 59 high schools in 31 Alabama counties.

"Our character can be strong if we stick to what we're called to do," said Nabers, an attorney and former Alabama finance director who has taught ethics at Samford's Beeson Divinity School. He is the author of The Case for Character, which looks at character from a biblical perspective.

During the two-week honors program for academically gifted students, AGS participants will study major and minor areas of coursework in a variety of subject areas. They will also undertake a community service project, attend a Birmingham Barons baseball game and travel to Montgomery for a production of Man of LaMancha at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. The schedule also includes recreational and athletic activities.

Sunday's opening ceremonies featured welcomes from Samford officials, including AGS director Dr. George Keller, and remarks from last year's outstanding male and female students, John Saba of Auburn High School and Chloe Hobdy of Clay County High School. Another 2005 participant, Amanda Tapley, presented special piano music.

The 2006 session of AGS will conclude Friday, June 30. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley will speak during closing ceremonies at 10 a.m. in Reid Chapel.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.