More than 200 of my fellow seniors gathered for our “last hoorah” on the Oglethorpe quadrangle on May 8th.
Friends, family, and members of the Oglethorpe community shared the moment with us–canopied by Oglethorpe’s signature oak trees and set by its historical buildings.
In addition to warm spring weather, we took in words of wisdom from honorary degree recipients Belle Turner Lynch and G. Wayne Clough. Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, also was a keynote speaker, emphasizing the need for graduates to view themselves as proactive leaders, unafraid of tackling the world’s social and political ills.
One of my classmates, Marilyn Corbin said to me “I’m glad the weather was beautiful and that we have such a special ceremony at Oglethorpe. A lot of schools are so big, they have to have it in the Dome… ours was on a great open lawn and on a beautiful campus.”
Avery Livingston, our senior class president, represented the class of 2010 in a farewell address that moved her to tears. In it, she highlighted that graduates should see themselves not as the “next generation,” but as “this generation.”
“I was nervous, but excited to give the speech. I worked all second half of the semester writing it and preparing to deliver,” said Avery, who also received the JEO Award for scholarship and service. “I also took public speaking this past semester partially because I wanted to give the best delivery I could. I had my classmates in mind when I wrote it, and I wanted my delivery to be as good as possible for our big day!”
Before and after the ceremony, attendees were treated to live music as well as vocal selections from the Oglethorpe Chorale. Marilyn led the group with two solo performances.
“Thankfully the song I was singing wasn’t too emotionally driven. I knew if I wanted to make it through successfully, I would need to not think about it being my last performance of my college career,” she shared.
Prior to graduation, many seniors took part in a number of on campus events to celebrate this milestone in our lives. “The day was better then I had imagined,” recalls Avery. “It was an emotional roller coaster, but in the end, I felt contented with four great years of my life.”