As more than 260 Marietta College graduates made their way into the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center on Saturday for the 185th Commencement ceremony, there was something more customary about the experience.
That ordinary or routine feeling was what made it even more special. For the first time in three years, the College conducted a typical ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. Without masks and without social distancing, it was easy to see the smiles as the graduates, and their families and friends focused on the accomplishments of the newest members of The Long Blue Line.
Jewett Oration winner Samantha Rubadue ’22 (Ironton, Ohio) summed up the day perfectly.
“The experiences we’ve had here have shaped us unimaginably,” she said. “Think about how the bonds you’ve created, the adaptability you have developed, have made you compassionate and able to engage, have helped you find moments of community in a time of separateness. Bring that with you, whether you’re going into a graduate program, or a job, or something that you maybe haven’t found yet. Our experiences at Marietta College have given us the tools to redefine ourselves, to make something stronger, so as we go on, be the person that you have worked to build.”
Commencement speaker Matt Weekley ’81, who also chairs the College’s Board of Trustees, reminded the graduates of everything they had overcome to reach Saturday’s milestone.
“I think it’s awesome how you’ve persevered over the past couple, rather unusual years and are here today to celebrate and acknowledge the closing of this very important chapter in your lives,” he said.
Then he pivoted and discussed some of the heroes in his life and how they were not necessarily famous individuals. He encouraged the graduates to discover their own “everyday” heroes as they begin the next chapter of their lives.
“Everyday heroes come in all shapes and sizes — they don’t have a certain net worth; they don’t belong to a particular race or religion; can be male or female; can live anywhere; can have any type of career, and can come into your life at any time,” Weekley said. “Their impact can be one-time and instantaneous, or can last a lifetime.”
Grace Tomasko ’22 (Aurora, Ohio), who finished second in the Jewett Oration, reminded her classmates that taking the next step in their lives is scary, but also exciting.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling. We’re moving on to the next phase of our lives, which means we need to say goodbye,” Tomasko said. “Maybe we’re saying goodbye to a favorite faculty member or friends we’re not sure if or when we’ll see again. But we also need to say goodbye to the part of ourselves that we’re leaving in the past because we are losing a part of ourselves in the process of this life change.”
President Bill Ruud and Provost Janet Bland handed out diplomas in front of more than 1,500 family members and friends at the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center.
Braeden Wallace ’22 (Elkton, Virginia), who earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, was the class valedictorian, while Nina Hahn ’22 (Wadsworth, Ohio) and Josh Mudgett ’22 (Duncan Falls, Ohio) shared the salutatorian honors. Hahn also earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, while Mudgett earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management.
The College’s Student Government Association (SGA) recognized Shelby Millheim ’22 (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) with the William Bay Irvine Medal, which is awarded annually to the outstanding student of the senior class. The recipient is selected on the basis of the degree and extent of involvement in student-participating activities, loyalty and service to Marietta College, and scholarship.
The Class of 2022 honored one faculty member — Dr. Dennis Kuhl, Professor of Physics — with the Outstanding Faculty Award. This award is presented each year to the faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching and college involvement as determined by a selection process administered by the SGA.