Spring Hill College Commencement 2013
Jubilee Photography will mail photo proofs to graduates' families in the coming weeks. For more information, contact Jubilee Photography at (251) 626-0380.
Spring Hill College held its commencement exercises on Saturday, May 4, 2013, on the Avenue of the Oaks.
Presented to the graduating senior who has achieved the highest grade point average during the entire course of study:
- Christian Stephen Durel Chaney
- Courtney McLauren Gibson
- Jessica Rae Logan
Presented to the students – one graduating woman and one graduating man – who have best fulfilled the ideals of Jesuit education for scholarship, leadership and service during their four years at Spring Hill College. These are the highest student awards bestowed by the College:
- Rebecca Grace Van Galder
- Christopher Joseph Lazarine
Edward B. Moody, S.J., Teacher of the Year Award
Made annually to the professor who, in the judgment of a committee composed of a broad cross-section of the academic community, has displayed excellence in the fulfillment of the teaching mission of the college:
- Dr. Matthew J. Bagot, Assistant Professor of Theology
Dawson Research Award
Made to the professor who, in the judgment of a faculty committee, has demonstrated excellence in scholarship:
- Dr. Sarah L. Duncan, Assistant Professor of History
This award, named in honor of Father William Rewak, former president of the College, recognizes a faculty or staff member who represents in a significant way the Jesuit ideal of service. This year’s recipient has been an exemplar of cura personalis throughout her 29 years of service to the College.
- Mrs. Joan Brown Siegwald, Institutional Researcher
Two hundred fifty-four candidates for graduation received their diplomas:
Master of Arts in Teaching
- Kathryn Friedlander
- Andrea Shayne Vickers
- Shea Zirlott
Master of Science in Education
- Robyn F. Thomas
Master of Science in Nursing
- Rene Ambos
- Victoria Catherine Curtis
- Vickie E. Dollhausen
- Melody Falsis-Mittelbuscher
- Angelia J. Goler
- Julie J. Marks
- Ruth Nita B. Quejada
- Jill A. Smith-Gray
- Alberta Thompson-Nettles
Master of Business Administration
- Steven Agras
- Brian Alexander Fisackerly
- McCrae T. Harrison
- Michael-Jon Lionel Tehini
Master of Liberal Arts
- Mary Lauren Biediger
- Sylvia Kathleen Boltic
- Cory S. Bronenkamp
- NaQuindra Danielle Brooks
- William F. Coty III
- Margaret Thurber Delaney
- Amy Lynne Dodd
- Elizabeth Ann Garza
- Laura Schramm McLeod
- James H. Pershing
- Lois Robinson Pritchett
- Dana Veth
Master of Pastoral Studies
- Kelly M. Schreckenberger
Master of Theological Studies
- Loretta Boyd
- David Wesley Brown
- Amy Christine Eaglen
- Jason T. Gambon
- Gregory L. Shoemaker
- Timothy Raphael Talbott
- James A. Tate
- Andrew A. Toyinbo
Bachelor of Arts
- John Brady Baird
- Kayla Bosarge, Honors Program
- Matthew Bosarge
- Olivia Lynn M. Bourgeois
- Whitney E. Brady, Magna Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in History
- Matthew B. Brewer
- Mark Edward Brink, Jr., Summa Cum Laude, Honors Program
- William D. Brown
- Michael R. Bustamante
- Yiting Cao
- Devon Gabrielle Clark, Cum Laude
- Gabrielle M. Edgerson
- Steve Edwards, Jr.
- Cale Thomas Finta
- Jenny V. Fleming
- Efren Flores
- Katelyn Elizabeth Gardner, Magna Cum Laude
- Michael C. Harp, Magna Cum Laude
- Mariah Kierra Holliday
- Madilyn L. Holmes
- Taylor C. Johnson
- Brandy Jones
- Emily Anne King, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in Communication Arts
- Julia Capri Lloyd
- Jessica Rae Logan, Summa Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Theology
- Melissa Sandra Menendez
- Zachary David Miller
- Samantha Adrienne Nack
- Allison Marie Patrick
- Brendan G. Pechon
- Jessica Carmen Revuelta
- Mary Teresa Ries
- Abbey Golda Roam, Magna Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Graphic Design
- Emily Rose Sholly, Magna Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Writing
- Arnetta Lambert Sims
- Amelie Megan St. Romain, Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Caroline Emmons Starr, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in Philosophy
- Camille Marie Sumrall
- Payton Ashley Tanner, Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Kathryn Danielle Therkelsen
- Gabriel Abraham Piquado Wagner
- Konstantin C. Wertelecki, Summa Cum Laude
- Thomas Will
- Daniel Michael Zekert
Bachelor of Science
- Sheyda Aboutalebi, Cum Laude
- Hans Patrick Acquistapace
- Casey Adams
- Wilberforce K. Amanor
- Chelsea Norelle Audibert, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in International Studies
- Matthew Ryan Aydt
- Sarah Elizabeth Azar
- Candice Leigh Baker, Magna Cum Laude
- Mary Katherine Bartow
- Abigail Berger, Cum Laude
- Briana Marie Bocage, Magna Cum Laude
- Kevin Allen Bockerstett, Summa Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in Biology
- Robert Joseph Boudreaux IV
- April Bradford
- Retta-Joe Brown
- Ilaria Patricia Bruce, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Jonathan Alex Bumb
- Tyler Keith Bunn
- Stephen Burches
- Benjamin Edwin Burgess, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Cary M.H. Butts, Cum Laude
- Thomas Joseph Campbell
- Sean Michael Carr
- Kiearstan D. Carter
- Christopher Darrell Cartmill, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Nathan Joel Ceille, Cum Laude
- Christian Stephen Durel Chaney, Summa Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in Political Science and Law
- James Chase, Cum Laude
- Thomas Cory Cianciola, Summa Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in English and in Secondary Education
- Erena Virginia Connon
- Sarah Naomi Conwell
- Alan Bruce Corder, Jr.
- Paul J. Cortazzo Magna, Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in Business Administration
- Crystal Lenee Daniels
- Alexis Summer Davis
- Burke Andrew DeFraites
- Ryan Lance DeoCampo
- Gabriela Maria Diaz
- Ryan DiFazio
- Carolina Maite Dominguez, Cum Laude
- Taylor Christine Donze, Magna Cum Laude
- David C. Dupuy, Jr.
- William Harry Eckert, Jr.
- Ronesha Y. Egson
- Amy Katherine Ellis
- Yamila V. Emede, Magna Cum Laude
- Hannah E. Favier
- Jeffrey P. Fennell, Jr.
- Michael Todd Flach
- Mary Margaret Fontenot, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Mary Elise Fox
- Lauren Elise Franklin
- Shelby Marie Fritscher, Magna Cum Laude
- Jenita Gamble, Magna Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Financial Accounting
- Courtney McLauren Gibson, Summa Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Psychology
- Brandon R. Gines
- Belén Gomez, Cum Laude
- Penny Laine Gyan, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program
- David Mason Hammond
- Nicole Leeann Hanks
- Trey Hayles
- Hunt Henning, Jr.
- Jacqueline Higgenbotham
- Sabrina M.S. Hijuelos
- Katelyn Hinson
- Caroline Elisabeth Hitt
- Erica D. Holland, Magna Cum Laude
- John Marshall Hollingsworth
- Kyle Holloway
- Jasmine NeKole Holly
- Brittney D. Hunter
- Daniel Jesús Iglesias
- Lauren Nikole Jakubowski
- Melanie C. Johnson
- Ryan Patricia Johnson
- Jeffrey Mark Johnston
- Jessica M. Jones
- Albert George Karam
- Camille Caroline Kee
- Jeffrey Keenum
- Thomas Patrick Kinsey
- Leslie Kraynak, Summa Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Chemistry
- Kathleen Elizabeth Dymphna Kuklish
- Jenny N. Laird, Magna Cum Laude
- Carleigh Elizabeth Lanclos
- Kathryn McLendon Land
- Christopher Joseph Lazarine
- Brandon Matthew Liuzza, Honors Program
- Raul Gaston Loys
- James Phillips Lyons, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Ronlesa Delrae Mack
- Chelsea Alana Mahoney
- Ryan Timothy Mains, Magna Cum Laude
- Alicia Manzie
- Thomas Todd Martin IV, Magna Cum Laude
- Sean Wystan Maybery, Cum Laude
- Mary Kathleen McCarthy, Cum Laude
- Deanna C. McGuire
- Akexandra M. Messer, Magna Cum Laude
- Emily Gabe Milke
- Tara M. Montegut
- Jennifer Marie Moore, Magna Cum Laude
- Regina Maria Morris, Magna Cum Laude
- Katheryn Claire Nores, Magna Cum Laude
- Molly Ann Chavin O’Hara, Honors Program
- Theresa Uchechi N. Okoro
- Benjamin D. Pace
- Amanda Brooke Parker, Summa Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in Early Childhood and Elementary Education
- Katherine Elizabeth Patterson, Cum Laude
- Chalisse Claire Peltier, Cum Laude
- Sydney Jewett Petite, Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Katherine Leolene Phelan, Honors Program
- Jessica Jenae Pouncy, Magna Cum Laude
- Andrés A. Poveda
- Calla Isabel Prieto
- Rebekah Claire Rayburn, Cum Laude
- John Coyle Redman
- William Travis Ritchie
- Kaitlyn Elizabeth Robichaux, Honors Program
- Kristin Anne Rogers
- Joseph Raymond Rowe III
- Clare Margaret Ryan, Cum Laude
- Kathleen Anne Sabine
- Alexander Ryan Salvatore, Cum Laude
- Amy Sanborn
- Ashley Lynn Sanders, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program
- Coti Nicole Sanders
- Mary Margaret Schmidt
- Scott Williams Shields
- Elena Gabrielle Sledge
- Chelsea Sutton Smith
- Lewis Thomas Godbee Smith III
- Mark Smith
- Anthony Michael Soscia
- Shalonda Renay Spencer
- Devin Stewart
- Lauren M. Stewart
- Mallory Amelia Sullivan
- Mylashia Taylor
- Brian J. Thead
- Ingrid Catalina Torres
- Kim Hoang Trinh
- Lawrence E. Trunk III
- Jose R. Valdez III
- Rebecca Grace Van Galder, Cum Laude, Honors Program
- James Dereck Vaughn
- Rachel Suzann Vidrine, Magna Cum Laude
- Christina S. Watson, Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Accounting
- Kaulla M. Watson
- Whitney A. Webre
- Cody Benjamin Welliver, Cum Laude, President’s Scholar in Hispanic Studies
- Beunka T. Whittaker, Cum Laude
- Brittany N. Woodard
- Patience Monique Wright, Magna Cum Laude
- Matthew Alexander Zuppardo
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Meredith Patrice Bodet
- Paul A. Brewton
- Rachael Kaye Buzbee
- Kylie Casey, Cum Laude
- Kate Elizabeth Frederic
- Johanna Michelle Gaviria
- Maishia La’Trice Jones
- Claire Elaine Kainer, Magna Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Scholar in Nursing
- Meaghan Caitlin McGurr
- Caitlyn Alyse Monroe, Cum Laude
- Scarlet Elizabeth Oxner, Cum Laude
- Rebecca Zoila Pol
- Kelsie Danielle Ramires
- Joshua J. Schultz
- Erin Elizabeth Stauss, Honors Program
- James Hayden Watkins
George E. Barrett
Spring Hill College, Class of 1952
Founding Partner of Barrett Johnston, LLC, in Nashville, TN
Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient
Sixty-one years! Time flies when you're having fun! Sixty-one years ago I graduated from Spring Hill … I was twenty-four. If you do the math you know I am eighty-five years old. I am delighted to be here with you today. Of course, at my age, you could say I am delighted to be anywhere with anyone! But to be with you today makes me particularly happy and proud, honored to be the 2013 commencement speaker here at Spring Hill College, a place that put its everlasting mark on me long ago.
I am aware of the challenges of delivering this speech. Unless I am really good – and I do mean really, really good – you will not remember me or anything I say. But I have a deal for you…If you will listen, and pay attention, at some point during the next fifteen minutes, I promise you will see my Spring Hill tattoo. And THAT I hope will make my remarks today memorable!
Before revealing my tattoo, I need to cover a little history, both general and personal. I will talk with you about the importance of a compass. I intend to help you put your graduation in the context of history. And I will challenge you to think about unjust power. Be forewarned that I will shock some, if not all, of you at some point. But if you pay attention, I promise you will see my tattoo.
What does it mean to commence today? This ceremony is more than one of "cap and gown" and "receiving your diploma." This ceremony marks the moment when you, the graduates, are recognized as being ready to take on the role of Citizenship. Knowing this special place, and the regimen of learning it has inflicted on you, I have no doubt that you are prepared for that role, the role of Citizen.
When I graduated sixty-one years ago it was a very different world. In 1952, Spring Hill, like so much of America, was caught in the trap of racism, a trap as old as the founding of this slave-owning Republic. Spring Hill was also caught in the snare of sexism, a snare as old as Eden's garden.
When I graduated, Spring Hill was an all-male college. Women would be admitted in the fall after my graduation, representing an immediate upgrade for the school. In 1954, just after I graduated, Spring Hill was the first college in the Deep South to desegregate, voluntarily, so far ahead of its Southern peers that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., mentioned the significance of Spring Hill in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."
It was a different world at Spring Hill in 1952. No students of color. No women. When I look out today, I realize that this gathering would have violated the laws and customs back then. Those laws and customs were evil and wrong. They were written by evil men of unjust power so that they might rule and ruin the lives of those who were poor and powerless. Thanks be to the countless men and women who stood against those unjust powers and brought us to a better place today.
And it is a better place, but still not perfect. There are still many and grave injustices. All one has to do is consider the plight of the poor and powerless in our own land, or look more broadly at the injustices in the world.
We look naturally to our leaders to deal with those injustices. And we hope that they are up to it. One leader, our first Jesuit Pope, Francis, has just started his tenure, and let us hope and pray that he will continue to lead by example. His example, so far, includes his choice to live in a guest house at the Vatican rather than in the Apostolic Palace. His example, so far, has found him traveling to a youth prison on Holy Thursday where he washed the feet of young men and women, serving the poor and not being caught up by the trappings of power. I am sure you will agree that his example is a powerful message for other Citizen leaders of the Church, some of whom have not been very holy or humble.
It is true that Spring Hill College put its mark on me long ago. In addition to the tattoo, what Spring Hill did for me was to give me a compass, a direction for the kind of mission that would mark my life. Though I did not know it at my own commencement, I would later become a lawyer, embracing the mission of all lawyers, which is advocacy.
It was Father Tom Clancy, teaching Constitutional Law here at Spring Hill, who encouraged me to consider the advocates life, which led me to law school. Father Clancy was not the only one who helped me form my compass. There was Father Rivet and Sociology 101. The textbook was Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma: subtitled: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. Published in 1944, it is a wonderful and daunting book that detailed the obstacles faced by non-whites in America. It was generally positive on the future of race relations, taking the view that democracy would triumph over racism. And I was introduced to that book here in the early 1950s.
Now a good compass not only points you in the right direction but also keeps you from going in the wrong direction. Spanish was clearly a wrong direction for me. It was my beat noir. After struggling with the course, I got a "D" on my final exam. Underneath that great big "D," Father Gonzalez wrote: "Mr. Barrett, this ‘D’ is a GIFT! Do not come back to my class!" Clearly my compass was not pointing me to Spanish.
My compass was pointing me to a mission of advocacy. I went to law school to become, in the words of Justice Brandeis, a social engineer. And as such my practice as a lawyer has been marked by advocating for the rights of the disadvantaged. Whether they be working people, or poor people, or non-white people, or just people without a voice, I have advocated for them against the powerful and the unjust. And I get up every morning in pursuit of my mission, still following the compass Spring Hill College helped me develop all those years ago. Over the years, that compass has kept me involved in a number of battles – all of them involving a fight against unjust powers.
In the 1960s, my compass led me to be one of only two white lawyers of the Nashville Bar of over 1,000 to defend sit-in students, fighting unjust power.
Twenty years ago, I followed my compass and represented more than 3,000 elderly people and successfully litigated to retain their health and welfare benefits promised to them by a powerful corporation. Those benefits had been taken away. We were fighting unjust power.
In 1968, my compass led me to file a lawsuit that would last 38 years, the result of which was desegregation of public higher education in Tennessee, all the while fighting unjust power.
More recently, my compass led me to negotiations with the Governor regarding the commutation of the death penalty for the first female scheduled to be executed in Tennessee in 120 years. That woman, who was not executed and is no longer in prison, now lives in Nashville and is contributing to society.
And I can say with no small sense of satisfaction that I have sued every Governor of Tennessee since I have had a law license. Republican and Democrat alike, sometimes winning and sometimes unfortunately losing, but always raising the challenge and always following my compass, that Jesuit compass forged here at Spring Hill College.
I do not mention those things as puffery or as bragging. I don't need to because, as I've mentioned, I have a Spring Hill tattoo. Have you seen it yet? I mention them because in each of those cases, the easiest thing to do was "Nothing," to simply "Follow the Status Quo." It is not easy to fight unjust power, to go against the majority, but that is what I am calling each of you fellow Citizens to consider as part of your mission.
You have just heard the phrase, "unjust power" several times. What does that mean? Today, in a world where power is easily used as a synonym for justice, you must recognize that:
It is unjust power if justice is denied…
It is unjust power if justice is ignored…
It is unjust power if justice is demeaned…
It is unjust power if justice is defeated…
You, my fellow Citizens, must constantly look to your compass and decide when and where to stand against an unjust power. Open your eyes and you will find unjust power everywhere. It is in
corrupt religions (and that is not an oxymoron)
Whenever and wherever justice is demeaned by power, that one Citizen who acts with courage can make a difference. You, one fellow Citizen, acting with courage, can make a difference.
Some of you are thinking, "That's all well and good for you who graduated in 1952! But these are different times; things are more difficult now!"
I agree these are different times. You graduate at a time when our nation and our world are struggling. You graduate at a time when there are problems that demand solutions – ranging from immigration, to the environment, to the economy, to the physical health of people, to the denial of social justice, to the emerging threat of nuclear proliferation.
But how different are these times from others? How much more difficult is it for you to graduate today? Let's think for a moment about graduating, about finally becoming Citizens, at other times in history—moments of great stress and crisis. Moments that demanded Citizen understanding, Citizen decision-making, Citizen involvement.
Imagine you are graduating in 1776 when this rag-tag confederation of states is taking the dangerous step to challenge a powerful and unjust monarchy. You are a new graduate, a new Citizen, and as you look down at your compass you are faced with a choice: To remain loyal to that powerful and unjust monarchy or to act against that unjust power and join the patriot revolutionaries, to be tattooed as a "Traitor." Where is your compass pointing?
Or imagine that you are graduating during the War of 1812 – that moment so frighteningly depicted in the words of our national anthem; that moment when the decision to act, to stand against unjust power, came by dawn's early light with Red Coats burning the White House in Washington. Where is your compass pointing?
The list goes on: You could be graduating in May 1861, just weeks after the bombing of Fort Sumter, placing this country on the road to Civil War. Imagine the choices faced by graduates then. Where is your compass pointing?
Or what about graduating in 1917, with WW I? Or 1933, with The Great Depression? Or 1942, with World War II? Or 1952, with the Civil Rights Movement? Or in 1967, with the Vietnam War?
It does not matter the time or place, whether you graduate today, a hundred years ago or a hundred years hence, you will find unjust powers and you must have a well-formed compass. The temptation to disregard your compass…to withdraw…to be passive…to be silent is, and always has been, strong. The easy road is the status quo. Every day and time gives rise to the idea that it seems wise not to act…not to speak out…against unjust power.
If you've been listening and paying attention, you've no doubt caught a glimpse of my Spring Hill tattoo. No needle and ink, but just as permanent and indelible. And while you cannot see my Spring Hill tattoo with your eyes, I hope by now you understand that it is deep and it runs the length and width and breadth of me. You may not know it yet but you, too, have been tattooed. Spring Hill has left an indelible mark on you and you will never be the same.
As I close, I want to leave you not with my words, but with some very important words of others. They are words I first heard while I was a student here years ago. They are words I hope you will remember. They are words that can be used as you enter the "real world" as open-minded and dedicated Citizens…dedicated to justice under law…and justice for all.
The first words come from Edmund Burke, the Irish-born, British lawyer-politician. He served many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain and, hear this, he supported the American Revolution! He stood, just as I implore you to stand, against unjust power. This is the challenge he issued to Citizens:
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
It is certainly worth repeating:
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
The second quote comes from Andrew Jackson fellow Tennessean, our seventh president, who had these seven words of wisdom. He said, "One man with courage makes a majority."
Again, if I could apply a tattoo to your mind, it would include these seven short words: "One man with courage makes a majority."
Now, I am not here today to evangelize you. There is no clerical collar beneath this gown. But I will tell you that those two sayings are burned into my compass and you, fellow Spring Hill graduates, would do well to consider burning them into your own.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
"One man with courage makes a majority."
Your education has qualified you for Citizenship and your Citizenship requires you to lean against unjust power. You have spent four years toiling, not just to earn this piece of paper you are about to receive. You have spent four years toiling to develop your compass. I encourage you all to use your compass, which will help point you on your way and remind you of your way.
The last piece of advice I offer to you is also the last piece of advice Polonius offered his son Laertes in Shakespeare's Hamlet:
"This above all: To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
I want to conclude by asking all of this graduating class to stand-up, turn around and give a big hand to your parents, your grandparents, your uncles, aunts, siblings and other friends, all of whom helped you get here today.
Good luck and God Bless you in life and your careers!
Senior Class Orator's Address
Carolina Maite Dominguez
Senior Class Orator
Uhmmm, I ran out of print quota so I couldn’t print my speech today, but I wrote some notes here on my hand. I thought it would be okay since we’re an environmentally friendly school. Good morning to each of you. I would like to personally extend a special and warm congratulations to everyone here today. It truly is an honor and blessing to be here, representing the extraordinary Spring Hill class of 2013 speaking with gratitude to all the faculty, staff, family and friends.
Look at us… we look great. I’m sure we remember move-in weekend 4 years ago, the rain was falling down on us hard as we tried to get to the many, and by many I mean the all-day events that Spring Hill had planned for us so we wouldn’t find our way to the apartments. Y’all, it was a torrential downpour that day. Move-in weekend was invigorating; it was an awakening welcome. This is just a small description of the personality of our class of 2013: resilient. The rain on move-in weekend could not stop us because we were ready to move. And today, we again are ready to move and we have been moving all along. Badgers, we are the Spring Hill College class of 2013, and so is our very own Father Salmi who has started this journey with us, although we get to graduate today, it looks like he’ll still be a super senior.
I am here today representing the resilient, the accomplished class of 2013. I want to share a story that tells what it means to be a Badger. I had no idea what a Badger was until I got here but it’s time for the world to know what a Badger is. So, the story goes like this: One day this semester I decided to run a full marathon. It wasn’t a goal I had been planning for a long time. The idea started the day of the Urban Plunge retreat Campus Ministry held. During this retreat we ate with homeless men and women of Mobile and visited with the members of L’Arche, a community of individuals with intellectual disabilities. After a day of arts and crafts with these pure-hearted and loving individuals, I decided to run the First Light Marathon sponsoring the L’Arche Community. I was not nearly as ready as I should have been physically, but my mind and my heart were set. I was screaming in my head, “Das it, baby, we’re doing this. WE’RE doing this.” It wasn’t for me; it was for them, the members of L’Arche.
People might think a marathon is an individual event, but I am here to tell you that it’s the farthest thing from that. We all have our individual potential. Badgers, we are full of it – our purple badger blood runs with potential. We are meant to begin, to go and run and set this world alive with our talents, gifts, ambitions and dreams whether it’s in the sciences, arts or communications. We are meant to be fully alive.
When my best friend dropped me off at the starting line I thought, this is it. I gotta give it all I got. I thought I was ready to run this thing myself, but then realized I was not alone. I had written 26 people’s names or events, including Badgers, on my shirt, dedicating each mile to something or someone that would fuel me through. Badgers, life is the same way. We didn’t get to this starting line by ourselves. Our professors have invigorated our minds with new knowledge, stretching our minds to places we can’t go back to. Some of us have met friends who have given us a new world view. We have been given a prestigious Jesuit education. We have been given a lot, and to whom much is given, much is expected. Life isn’t an individual event. And, yes, each of us has to do our part individually but we are expected to also do it with others who are on the same team. Today we are all at the same starting line, and everyone is on the sidelines cheering us on.
At the start of the marathon I saw Dr. Wilson. As I approached mile 9, professors from Spring Hill College were sitting atop their cars waving to the runners. At mile 11, there was another professor on his bicycle guiding the runners. I was pumped; I wasn’t thinking about the numbers of the miles, I was just going, being fueled by those around me, by the large running community and the Badger community around me. When I reached mile 19, I felt it. I felt the pain, the exhaustion, the dehydration. The “Das it, Baby” mentality was wearing out in my mind. But that was it. Dr. Wilson’s theology lessons were coming back to me; I was on this endeavor, but God was taking care of me … I could do this. It was a miracle; mile 19 was beginning and leading me to Spring Hill College campus. As I was running down the Avenue of the Oaks, my friends, my fellow Badgers, were cheering me on. They grabbed my hands and we ran mile 19 together. Right when it was getting tough, the SHC community was there to push me through. Badgers, that’s what we’re all about – community.
On our race over these past years we have faced adversity, we have encountered the death of a fellow classmate, professors and invaluable staff; we have fought sleepless nights and research papers. But, it is this sense of community alive at Spring Hill that allows us to face adversity. It is the professors here who know us. Our professors know our passions and what really makes us listen in the classroom. They know when we are actually sick, or just hung-over. They will see us in the cafeteria trying to cure ourselves. Let’s face it… we can’t hide, or we will starve. We are one big community, and yet we have formed other communities that will be engrained in us forever. We have become members of SHAPe, we have become sorority sisters and fraternity brothers. We have become a community with a focus for the magis, for the more. More for Christ, more for others.
Thank you Spring Hill College for giving us the education to strive for that “more,” to run the race not just for ourselves, but to do it with those who genuinely care for our future. Thank you for changing the way we view the world around us. Thank you for giving us a new perspective for people, for our faith and for our life. And since I’m thanking people, I’d like to thank whoever paid for the nice palm trees around campus. But, seriously, everyone needs a feeling of escape sometime. Let us wholeheartedly thank our parents and families for allowing us to receive this awesome education and for being here today.
But let us also thank ourselves, Spring Hill College class of 2013, for our perseverance, dedication and hard work. Four years ago, when we were but just young Badgers we did a lot of “me” exploration, we began by trying to define ourselves, “Who are we?” Who are going to be my friends? What am I going to major in?” In this process, we were becoming self-aware.
Now, after 4 years on the Hill full of community service, of classes stressing a greater world view, of traveling around the world and meeting people different than ourselves, we have realized that our lives are not just for us; we have learned the Jesuit ideal of being men and women for others. We have learned that real living is living for others. Today, we are all more alive than we were yesterday. We have come alive with what Spring Hill has given us. We have been fueled with the fire to fight for justice, the thirst to seek out knowledge, to think critically and the passion to pursue our dreams. If God wakes us up today, then there is something we must do. Four years ago he planned for us to start our own marathon, but he didn’t give us a smooth path – he gave us a hill! Das it, baby, we are Badgers – we don’t mosey on paths, we climb hills… and sometimes cupolas and golf courses.
We are sitting here today mentally ready for the next miles to run. We have consciences and experiences like participating in the International Service Immersion Trips, serving refugees in Italy, or tutoring kids that awakens our conscience and hearts to the core. Sometimes, we wish we could do much more but we can’t. But we can’t let that stop us from doing anything at all. We must do what we can. All people want is for us to be present. Whatever steps we take next, we just need remember to be present with the people around us; they are most likely the ones who helped us get here today.
So here we are, at a new starting line, fueled, educated, and invigorated. What’s next for us is an adventure. The word “career” literally means a running course or an adventure, and we are resilient Badgers. Let’s invade the world with our love and life because we’re an invading species. I know that in this powerful pack of Badgers, we are going to have awesome writers, doctors, lawyers, and more, and not just beer pong champs. But at the very core, we are all going to be the best of ourselves we can be. So das it, baby – let’s be awesome. We all came for different reasons, yet, we are all leaving for one reason, and that is because the world is calling us. Although the title of super senior can be quite appealing, we must remember that the world is inviting us to become even more alive and engaged. At the end of the 26 miles I sprinted the last point .2. I realized I had more inside of me than I thought. And at the end of 4, or maybe 5 years (or 6), WE always have more inside of us to keep going, to keep giving.
So, in conclusion Spring Hill College class of 2013, Jesuit Pope Francis said in his first prayer in front of the world as a Pope, “Let us pray for the world so that there may be a great sense of brotherhood.” With the word brotherhood, Pope Francis stresses that community alive here at Spring Hill. I pray today, that we, the Spring Hill College class of 2013, as we go out into the world, allow and facilitate that human bond among all the people we will encounter. So instead of Amen, Das it, Baby!