West Virginia Wesleyan College held its 128th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 4. In addition to the nearly 250 graduates, Wesleyan honored three candidates with honorary degrees. They were commencement speaker Dr. Deborah Trautman ’80, prominent banker William B. Grant ’75, and renowned jazz percussionist Roger Humphries. Students from 26 states and spanning 12 countries from Japan to Austria, received their degrees in graduation ceremonies.
The John D. Rockefeller IV Physical Education Building Gym was filled to capacity with proud parents, grandparents, families, and friends of the graduates. In addition, an online audience viewed the ceremonies through a live video stream.
In his welcoming remarks, President Joel Theirstein said, “This graduating class is impressive, you’ve done some amazing things and you’re leaving us to go to some amazing places. Some of you are going to amazing graduate schools and others of you are going to amazing jobs.” He then asked the graduates to recognize all the people that helped them along the way. President Theirstein charged the students to “Go boldly into the world with all of your heart. Chase your dreams and make your dreams a reality.”
A respected academic, prominent speaker, executive, author on health care and public policy, and a Wesleyan graduate, Dr. Trautman thanked the assembly for the opportunity to participate in this “celebration of accomplishment and success.” She noted this is an important milestone and an occasion for celebration. “We rarely make this journey alone. We are supported by our fellow students, supported by faculty, supported by family, friends, and others along the way.”
She asked the students to remember three C’s—celebrate yourself, challenge yourself, and care for yourself. “You are the part of the solution to improving our world, our nation.” She added there is always room in our journey for life-long learning. “Your graduation today is great for the nation.” Referencing a publication on the effect of educational attainment, she said “This study found that in a region, adding just one year of college to the region’s workforce, the gross domestic product improves by 17.4 percent.”
Dr. Trautman concluded her remarks with two quotes, an old African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And from president John F. Kennedy who said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Dr. Trautman encourage the audience to pursue learning as a lifelong goal. She wished all “joy, success, prosperity, and a life of meaning.”
Following Dr. Trautman’s address was the awarding of diplomas. As graduates walked across the stage, holding their degrees high, there were acknowledging shoutouts of “Thank you” and “We did it!” As the skies cleared outside, students gathered on the lawn with glowing family, friends, faculty, and classmates to celebrate, take pictures, share final hugs, and wish each other well.