The music and cooking star gives the commencement address at her alma mater, Young Harris College
Credit: Scott Dean

Trisha Yearwood offered a simple but heartfelt messages to graduates of her first alma mater on Saturday when she delivered the commencement address at Young Harris College in Georgia.

“Claim your happiness. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you,” the country music and cooking star told students. “Be happy and you will attract happy.”

The slimmed-down Food Network host also used the words of humorist Mark Twain as she spoke to the class of 2014: “I never let my schooling interfere with my education,” she said.

Yearwood, 49 and married to country music superstar Garth Brooks since 2005, was awarded an honorary doctorate of music degree by the college after her speech. She earned her own associate’s degree in business administration at Young Harris in 1984, later finishing her bachelor’s degree at Nashville’s Belmont University in 1987.

While at Young Harris, Yearwood made the most of her time. She was active in music programs, participating in chorus, plays and operettas. She also was president of her sorority, Sigma Beta Sigma.

After moving away from her native Georgia, Yearwood parlayed her studies and talents into a successful music career, charting nine No. 1 hits since her 1991 debut and recording 12 albums. She also went on to win three Grammy Awards, three Country Music Awards and two Academy of Country Music Awards.

In addition to her singing, Yearwood’s love of cooking led her to pen two successful cookbooks, which earned spots on the New York Times Bestseller list. Her Food Network show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, which debuted in 2012, earned a Daytime Emmy Award in 2013.