Marietta College's graduating seniors may have felt like they were jettisoned back to the 1960s during the 171st annual commencement ceremony on Saturday (May 17, 2008).
But U.S. Congressman John Lewis' (D-Ga.) references to his time as a civil rights leader as he stood side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were meant to show how the country has survived and, in some cases, moved on from many of the social injustices of the past. However, the honored guest also used his recollections as a way to communicate to the approximately 275 graduates that there is still much more to be done.
"If you want a better society, you cannot wait for Marietta College to do it. You cannot wait for the government to do it. You cannot wait for your friends or family to do it," said Lewis, who has served in the Congress since 1986. "Through your own efforts, through your own creativity and vision, you have to do it. You must make our society a better place."
(To view Lewis' speech click here).
Prior to his speech, Lewis received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Marietta College. Board of Trustee Chair Patricia A. Loreno Willis '70 ead a citation and President Dr. Jean A. Scott and Provost Dr. Rita Smith Kipp placed the honorary doctorate hood on the shoulders of Lewis.
"Whatever it is that you care about—whether it is the injustice of poverty, global warming, questions about the war in Iraq, or the raid on civil liberties—You must find your passion and make your contribution," he said.
Windy and overcast conditions outside didn't dampen the spirits of the graduates and the more than 2,000 others who had gathered in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center.
Marietta's spirit was proudly on display during the Jewett Orations. Both Rosa S. Hanks (Raleigh, N.C.) and Nicholas A. Aylward (Lakewood, Ohio) gave uplifting and inspirational speeches. Hanks claimed first place with "4 years, 1,460 days, 39,064 hours …" Hanks told the crowd, "Marietta College has given us the opportunity to share our hard-earned and well-deserved knowledge with anyone and everyone we will encounter once we leave this stage, this College, and move into our communities new and old and our careers. Marietta College and our experiences here have prepared us to become more than we thought we could be. Marietta College has prepared us to be more than we may seem now."
(To view Hanks' oration click here).
(To view Aylward's oration click here).
The College also honored some of its finest graduates, including valedictorian Joel U. Howdyshell (Marietta, Ohio) and salutatorian Di Yang (Beijing, China). Also acknowledged were the newest members of Phi Beta Kappa— AmiDemebie Casis (Nacogdoches, Texas), Lindsey Green (Washington, Pa.), Kimberly Hoff (Marietta, Ohio), Philip Lemaster (Chillicothe, Ohio), Brittany Rogers (Brecksville, Ohio) and Carl Starkey (Reynoldsburg, Ohio).
The men and women who received their degrees Sunday join the more than 24,000 Marietta College alumni/ae as members of the Long Blue Line. The senior class also raised $1,537 for the Marietta Fund, which was matched by the Marietta College Alumni Association for a total donation of $3,074.
Marietta faculty member, David Marchetti, of the Department of Athletic Training, was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award.