More than 300 Marietta College seniors received diplomas before a capacity crowd of family, friends and faculty Sunday during the institution’s 177th annual commencement exercises at the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center.
“It’s been great, but it’s kind of overwhelming, too. Who knows when I’ll see these people again?” graduate Christian Sanders of Cleveland said of his fellow classmates.
Sanders played football for the college over the last four years while he majored in broadcasting. And he’s already landed a position as coordinator of multi-culture recruitment for the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.
His mom and dad, Noreen Roderick and Michael Sanders of Cleveland, brought several family members to the graduation ceremonies Sunday.
“This is my first child to graduate from college,” Roderick said. “So it’s pretty exciting. I went to Ohio University, but he wanted to attend a smaller school.”
She noted Christian was also a member of the Pi Kappa Delta Honor Society and a member of the forensics team.
Education grads Katie Parks of Rinard Mills and Shannon Donovan from Columbus were preparing to take their places in the long blue line of graduating seniors assembling in a downstairs hallway prior to the start of Sunday’s ceremonies.
“My major was intervention specialist for grades K-12, and hopefully I’ll be hired locally for a teaching job this year,” Parks said. “I’ve applied, but the position has not been finalized yet. But without Marietta College I wouldn’t have that job opportunity. I’m pretty excited, all my family and friends are here.”
Donovan is still looking for a position in K-3 elementary education, hoping to work somewhere in Ohio.
“I have mixed emotions today,” she said Sunday. “I’m happy to be graduating, and I’ll miss all of my friends here. But I am looking forward to moving into my career.”
Josh Counselman of Wellsburg, W.Va., was not quite finished with his schooling.
“I’m a political science major and plan to start working on my PhD at (the University of Pittsburgh) this fall,” he said.
Fellow political science major C.J. Englert of Grand Island, N.Y., said he’s continuing his education, too-but in the U.S. Navy.
In his welcoming comments, Marietta College President Joseph Bruno gave a special welcome to all mothers in the audience in honor of Mother’s Day.
Sunday’s commencement was the last for the forseeable future to be held on Mother’s Day, according to a recent college news release which said the 2015 graduation exercises will take place on May 3.
“We also welcome all parents, including a large group who have traveled here from China, Kuwait and Saudi, Arabia,” Bruno said.
During his charge to the Class of 2014, Bruno noted the grad have reached out in many ways to serve the college and local community in the past four years, and encouraged the class to continue in that vein.
“As Nobel laureate and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer said, ‘I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.’ If that’s true, and who am I to argue with Albert Schweitzer, this group is destined for happiness,” Bruno said.
Keynote speaker Marcia Meyer of Arizona is a retired senior executive officer with PetSmart Corp. and founder of the Be Kind to People Project, a nonprofit organization that focuses on honoring the nation’s teachers and equipping students with tools to learn and practice relationship skills helping them make a positive impact on their schools and communities.
“What you do will change in ways you can’t predict. But who you are is up to you. And who you are … is so often what impacts others,” she told the graduates. “A big part of who you are is based on your values, and those values impact your personal decisions.”
Meyer said one of her personal values is the choice to always show kindness to others.
“Kindness is a force without force, and it goes well beyond manners to the very heart of how people honor, respect, communicate with, and treat one another,” she said. “Kindness isn’t fluffy. I think the most accurate definition of kindness is ‘intentionally extending good to others.’ And it’s not just a random thought or a desire; it involves purposeful action.”
Exciting life decisions await the graduates, Meyer told the Class of 2014.
“Make them with the confidence of being who you are,” she said. “And please remember-when it’s up to you … be kind people.”