Business leader, Trustee offers inspiring words to 173rd graduating class

With close to 300 graduates in attendance and approximately 2,000 friends and family attending Marietta College’s 173rd Commencement ceremony Sunday (May 9, 2010), keynote speaker Joe Chlapaty H’10 was the only thing standing between the graduates and their diplomas.

Chlapaty, a business leader, philanthropist and Marietta Board of Trustee member, made the wait worth it by delivering and inspirational and educational address in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center.

Chlapaty, borrowing a quote from former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, told the students “It’s easy to make a buck, but much more difficult to make a difference.” He urged them to remain positive as the nation tries to break from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and they should not let go of the competitive spirit that has made the United States great.

Chlapaty joined the other graduates on Mother’s Day in the Long Blue Line as he was conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

“Mr. Chlapaty has offered you a very rich perspective on the challenges you face, the importance of your taking action to confront those challenges, and the reasons you should be confident that you can provide the leadership our society needs,” said President Dr. Jean A. Scott.

It was a sunny afternoon, but a bit windy as temperatures reached the low 60s. Still, the mood inside was bright and cheery for most of the ceremony. There was a somber moment when David and Anita White of Marietta accepted their son’s diploma in Petroleum Engineering. Caleb White ’10 was killed in a motorcycle accident in the fall.

“When Caleb lost his life the students and faculty of our department all felt like we, too, had lost a favorite son,” said Dr. Robert Chase, Chair of the Department of Petroleum Engineering and Geology, who presented the parents with the diploma. “So it was with great pride that I recommended to the faculty that Marietta College award Caleb the degree of Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering.”

Earlier in the ceremony, both Katy Black (Canal Winchester, Ohio) and Michael Cress (Atlantic City, N.J.) gave uplifting and inspirational speeches. Black claimed first place with “Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Out.” Cress took second with “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow.

The College also honored some of its finest graduates, including valedictorian Yi Wang (Beijing, China) and salutatorian Stephanie Gelo (Postville, Iowa). Also acknowledged was Kyle P. Thauvette (Dalton, Ohio) with the William Bay Irvine Medal.

The men and women who received their degrees Sunday join the more than 25,000 Marietta College alumni/ae as members of the Long Blue Line. Each graduate also wore a commemorative medallion recognizing the College’s 175th anniversary that was celebrated during the 2009-10 academic year.

The Senior Challenge proved to be very successful as the seniors had a record class participation of 66 percent and also raised a record $4,277 for the Marietta Fund, which was matched by the Marietta College Alumni Association and the Board of Trustees for a total donation of $9,554.

Marietta faculty member, Dr. Daniel G. Monek, of the Department of Music, was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award.

To view a recording of the 173rd Commencement, click here. A photo gallery can be viewed here.