In addition to celebrating the individual accomplishments of 577 graduates, Gettysburg College’s 182nd Commencement also elevated another source of pride: the community that was central to the Class of 2017’s success.
“Gettysburg is indeed about the human experience—about the people—the relationships you have made with one another and in the larger Gettysburg community, the mentoring you have received from faculty and staff, the groups you have formed, the friendships you have forged—some of which will last a lifetime,” said President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 in her welcome to the graduates.
Riggs was not the only speaker of the day to evoke the significance of relationships.
Haya Mohanna ’17, an international student from Gaza Strip, Palestine who spoke on behalf of the graduating class, talked about the importance of her friends and mentors in her acclimation to campus.
“I stand here today—having not seen my family or gone home since I left my first year—telling you this place is my home,”Mohanna said. “In these past years, I met friends, staff, professors, even families off-campus and host parents who opened their homes and were the hand I needed when I fell down.”
The significance of those relationships inspired the challenge she issued to her classmates.
“Take your Gettysburg roots and don't aim for the sky, but rather make it your start,” Mohanna said. “Challenge yourself every day to make an impact and just remember that one hand that was your savior here—be that one hand someday to someone else.”
Educator, museum professional, and humanitarian Johnnetta Betsch Cole delivered the keynote address, in which she shared her thoughts on the type of leadership needed in the world—one which focused less on the individual and more on the people it benefited.
“Leadership is not about self-aggrandizement; it is about doing what is in the best interest of others,” Cole said.
“Indeed, everyone should be of service,” Cole continued. “As the old folks who grew me up would put it: Doing for others is just the rent you’ve got to pay for your room on earth. What distinguishes a leader is that he or she pays more rent than other folks do!”
After the conferring of degrees, Riggs took advantage of the opportunity to address the graduating class one last time by imparting a few final words of wisdom and a challenge.
“My charge to you is simple,” Riggs said. “Continue to act for the greater good. Take this education—this privilege—and use it to make a difference.”
During the ceremony, Cole received an honorary degree, as did Michael L. Cooper-White and Moncef Slaoui. David LeVan ’68 was presented with the Lavern H. Brenneman ’36 Award for Exemplary Volunteer Service to Gettysburg College, and political science Prof. Shirley Anne Warshaw was recognized with the College’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Over the course of the weekend, members of the graduating class were also inducted into both Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national honors organization that promotes liberal learning and recognizes academic excellence, and Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.
Find out who was inducted into these honor societies, and who received other honors and awards during Spring Honors Day.
Two students were also recognized during a U.S. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) commissioning ceremony on Saturday morning, and were commissioned as second lieutenants.
Check out pictures from the ceremony below, or view the photo gallery on Flickr.
See more coverage of this year's Commencement ceremony—check out posts from social media below, or view them on Storify.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Photos by Shawna Sherrell and Khun Minn Ohn '19
Contact: Kasey Varner '14, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6806
Posted: Sun, 21 May 2017
Next on your reading list
Share this story: