Speakers’ comments at Undergraduate Commencement 2017

Commencement 2017

Speakers’ comments at Manchester University Undergraduate Commencement on May 20, 2017:

Welcome by President Dave McFadden:

Please join me in welcoming our 2017 graduates! 
Let’s take a moment to celebrate with everyone. At this time, I invite anyone with a phone to tell the world about Manchester University and the Class of 2017. Let’s all use #ManchesterGraduation to post something to social media — a selfie, a picture, a status update. And while you do that, I’m going to Tweet a picture of all of you. 
This commencement ceremony completes the 128th academic year at Manchester University. Welcome, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. And especially, I welcome our graduates.  Today represents one of the greatest achievements of your lives. In becoming college graduates, you have fulfilled a goal that many people around the world only dream of. We are proud of you and we celebrate with you. …
Our graduates here today know that their successes did not come just from their own efforts. They relied on their parents and families and friends for financial help, encouragement, care packages, attendance at things like concerts, recitals, athletic competitions, and they enjoyed warm welcomes at home when they were able to get home.  I invite the parents, family members, friends and extended family members who supported these graduates to stand so that your students and their faculty can thank you. 

Campus Pastor Bekah Houff offers Invocation, followed by Honorary Degree Ceremony.
President McFadden and i
ntroduction of Commencement speaker John Prendergast. 

He is introduced by Raylene Rospond, vice president for Academic Affairs:

Our conscience can be an unwelcome companion. It calls us to see the world’s injustice. It calls us to reject that well-worn path of least resistance. Our conscience calls us to do not what is easy, but what is right. Our conscience encourages us to be our best selves. 
For many people, John Prendergast has been their conscience. As a young man in 1984, John saw images of the Ethiopian famine on television. Rather than ignore it, he flew to Africa. “I wanted to know,” he has said, “what I as a citizen and what America as a country could do to keep more people from that depth of agony.”
That journey launched John’s career as a human rights activist and author. He has devoted his entire adult life to Africa—the victims of its genocide, its famine and its wars. He has sacrificed his own comfort and, at times, risked his own life to shine a light on evil and forge a new path of hope. 
John Prendergast is a person of ability and conviction who appeals to our better angels. He understands that our diverse beliefs call us to make the world a kinder and better place, to establish justice, to build peace amid strife, and to model lives of love. For reflecting these values of this University, Manchester awards him the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters. 
President McFadden, I have the privilege of presenting John Prendergast for an honorary degree.

Conferring of honorary degree by President McFadden:

John Prendergast, upon this recommendation and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees and with an affirming vote of the faculty and the board, I confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities pertaining thereto.  We recognize you for the moral and physical courage that gives voice to justice and sows the seeds of peace. In striving to be your best self, you call others to be their best selves, too. 
We ask that you accept this degree, knowing that it comes with our deepest respect.  As a symbol of this award, we acknowledge your contributions with a hood, and grant you the diploma, Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.

(Note: Prepared remarks by John Prendergast 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.”
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 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. And second, we truly care about your success.
You are equipped for what lies ahead. You are well-rounded individuals with a liberal arts education from an impressive university.  You've developed strong values about work and service.  You have ability and conviction.
As you proceed from this ceremony today you will be 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 God bless you all.

2017 graduate Sarah Farnam addresses the Class of 2017, followed by the Charge to the Graduates by President McFadden. He introduced a video of thanks from students to faculty.

The Benediction is by 2017 graduate Renée Neher:

Many of us may think of today as the ending of a life-changing chapter in our lives. But it is also a beginning. It is the beginning of our opportunity to show others the best versions of ourselves. It is the beginning of our opportunity to show the world how Manchester graduates individuals of ability and conviction.
My favorite definition of the word “Commencement” is: “the beginning of something.” Today is the end of our education at Manchester but it is also the beginning of a new journey in our lives. For some, it means starting a full time job; for others it means continuing education in graduate school; for others it means a year of service; and others are still wondering what lies ahead.
There are so many wonderful opportunities for us out there. And with the power of this amazing, challenging, and life changing education let us begin this next journey with a classic Disney quote, "Anything is possible if you just believe."

Because of weather, the post-Commencement celebration is in Haist Commons.