Have the courage to follow your heart by trusting in your abilities, don't discount the value of hard work and choose a profession about which you are passionate, College of Charleston graduates were told Saturday.

"Strive to work for something larger than yourself. Never give up. Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising up after we fall," said Marco Cavazzoni, vice president and general manager of final assembly and delivery at Boeing Charleston.

Cavazzoni, who is responsible for managing local production of Boeing's newest passenger jet, the 787 Dreamliner, was the commencement speaker for two ceremonies that saw 2,298 undergraduates receive their degrees under the majestic oak trees at the historic Cistern in front of the administration building on campus.

"America continues to be the beacon of the world, a country where through hard work dreams do come true," he said.

Lindsey Matthews of Myrtle Beach earned a degree in early childhood education. "I'm excited. It's a lot of hard work, and it's a good degree. It gives me hope for finding a job," she said.

Ryan Moffitt of Burlington, N.C., majored in economics and plans to attend law school at Elon University. "It was a great experience overall. The opportunities are endless. It's just been a really, really fun time. I definitely learned a ton in class and out of class," he said.

Forty-three states and 30 countries were represented in the graduating class. The School of Humanities and Social Sciences awarded 835 undergraduate degrees, the most overall, followed by the School of Business, which conferred 488 degrees. Business administration was the most popular major, and communication was a close second.

Two ceremonies were held, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

The college also awarded 135 master's degrees on Saturday. The top master's programs in terms of numbers of students who received their sheepskin were the Master of Science in environmental studies, 24; Master of Arts in history, 14; and Master of Science in marine biology, 13.

Cavazzoni said the baton was being passed to a new generation in the graduation ceremonies. "I know that our future is bright and that you will make us all proud," he said.

Boeing last year selected Charleston for a $750 million aircraft assembly plant. The investment is the largest single industrial investment in state history.