Speakers’ comments at Graduate and Professional Commencement 2017

Professional and Graduate Commencement 2017

Speakers’ comments at Manchester University Graduate and Professional Commencement on May 20, 2017:

Welcome by President Dave McFadden:

I would like you to join me in congratulating out our 2017 graduates! 
Last year, Manchester University made history by awarding our first Doctor of Pharmacy degrees. Today, we make history again by awarding our first Master of Science degrees in pharmacogenomics. PGx, as it’s often called, represents one of the most exciting fields of science. Manchester’s program is at the cutting edge of that field, which makes our graduates today true pioneers. 
Whether you are receiving a master’s in athletic training, a master’s in pharmacogenomics or a doctor of pharmacy degree today, this graduation represents one of the greatest achievements of your lives. You have made a significant investment of time and resources to earn these advanced degrees. Many of you moved far from home to give this small University a chance. It took courage, grit, and even a sense of adventure to get to this day. 
Manchester is honored that you made this journey with us. We are all stronger for our time together. And we are forever joined by the lifelong friends we found here and the community that has helped us learn and grow. 
And to the families and friends of our graduates, thank you. You too, have a stake in this day. We are grateful for the love and encouragement you have provided these graduates. Thank you for being a part of this celebration today.

University Pastor Bekah Houff offers Invocation before introduction of Commencement speaker John Prendergast, honorary degree recipient, by Raylene Rospond, vice president for Academic Affairs:

John Prendergast is one of the world’s leading human rights activists, founder of the Enough Project and a best-selling author.
He has devoted his entire adult life to Africa — the victims of its genocide, its famine and its wars. He has demonstrated moral and physical courage in giving voice to justice in the pursuit of peace.
Manchester will award John an honorary degree at this afternoon’s Undergraduate Commencement. And this morning we recognize him, too, as a bright reflection of the University’s values and its mission that calls us “to respect the infinite worth of every individual and improve the human condition.”
Please join me in welcoming John Prendergast. 

(Note: His prepared remarks were not provided to the University for inclusion in the transcripts.)

President McFadden administers Pledge Of Social and Environmental Responsibility:

Today some graduates make a distinctive commitment along with students on campuses across the country.  The Graduation Pledge says:   
“I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.”
It's a simple statement, but a bold statement at the same time. Those who have taken this pledge wear green ribbons to reflect our commitment.  At Manchester, we seek to educate students of ability and conviction, and this is one expression of that commitment.

After the degrees are conferred, Lori Zimmerman, representing the Manchester University Alumni Association, welcomes Manchester’s newest graduates.   

As am alumna and a member of Manchester University’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, and on behalf of the more than 15,000 alumni, I share this message with the Class of 2017:  We are here for you.   
Right now, you may not think to call on other Manchester graduates you’ve never met for assistance, but I have two reasons why you can and should. First, we have been where you are, and we know the challenges that come with starting a career. Second, we truly care about your success.
You are equipped for what lies ahead. You are well-rounded individuals with an advanced degree from an impressive university.  You have developed strong values about work and service.  You have ability and conviction.
You have been invited to take a small oak tree as our gift to you. Why an oak tree? Because it represents our aspirations for you: 

Oak trees are awe-inspiring. They create beauty for others, and shade for comfort. People look up to them. 
Oak trees are strong. When storms take down other trees, the oak is almost always left standing. It’s tough to break an oak tree.
Oak trees put down deep roots that just keep growing. When the tree needs more to survive, it just digs a little deeper.
Like your oak tree, you will soar. Remember your roots … Dig a little deeper … Keep looking up. Grow toward the sky and you will see there are no limits to where you can go.
Welcome to the community of Manchester University graduates. And may God bless you all.

President McFadden offers the charge to the graduates:

Whether you will practice in a lab, a clinical setting, a locker room or athletic venue, a community pharmacy or other place where people will need your help, the programs from which you are graduating today are all focused on the health and well-being of others.
You’ve been educated at a macro level to ask, “What do we know about all of those who have this illness, need this therapy, or suffered this injury that I can bring to bear in treating this specific individual?”
You’ve been educated at a micro level to understand human systems – cardiovascular, neurological, anatomical and more – and some of you are now even experts at decoding DNA to identify targeted therapies for individual patients. To one degree or another, regardless of your degree, you’ve all been prepared to deliver what we call precision medicine.
When we first launched our pharmacogenomics program, PGx was referred to by many as personalized medicine. My father, a retired family doctor who spent most of his career here in North Manchester, objected. He knew his patients – and their families – by name. He had delivered some of them and then delivered their children. He made house calls. He was once taken by snowmobile during a blizzard to the hospital to treat a patient. You can imagine his objection: “Personalized medicine isn’t new. I practiced it for 50 years.”
My hope, my expectation, is that Manchester has prepared you to deliver personalized care in its truest form. ... As graduates of ability and conviction from Manchester, you are skilled and compassionate, you are competent and committed. Those with whom you work and those whom you will serve expect no less of you. 
Congratulations on your wonderful accomplishment.