Marietta College celebrates Class of 2017 at 180th Commencement

female student entering commencement

Throughout his first year as Marietta College’s President, Dr. William N. Ruud has developed a bond with the student body that is clearly evident.

That relationship was on full display during Marietta College’s 180th Commencement ceremony in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center on Sunday. It was very clear following Amy Castle ’17 (Columbus, Ohio) and Naser Al-Hnaif (AlAhmadi, Kuwait) gave their Jewett Orations.

“We have 1,250 of them just like these two and 300 sitting out there today,” he said. “You can see why we love to come to work every day … and you should have seen the third-place winner yesterday at Baccalaureate.”

Castle was the first-place winner with “Yes, Please.” During her oration she spoke about how Marietta College and the people she met helped prop her up at some of her lowest moments.

“During my sophomore year I was facing my hardest semester. My father had passed away and I was at my lowest point,” she said. “I learned Marietta places people in your life who are there to answer your request. If you say please, someone at Marietta is there to help. … You must also have a willingness to say yes. It doesn’t mean yes is always the answer, but you should be open to change. Marietta helps you do this.”

Al-Hnaif’s second-place oration was untitled, but it packed plenty of substance.

“It is our responsibility, as graduates of this great school, to individually uphold and revere the ideals of liberty and cultural tolerance and diversity that make this country the leader of the free world,” he said. “We must all unite together socially, economically and politically despite our outward differences. Within us, beneath stereotypes, headlines, and conflicts is a common bond of humanity, creativity, fellowship and hope. That bond is what makes this College and this great country possible.”

Members of the Class of 2017 received their diplomas from President Ruud and Provost Janet Bland during the indoor celebration — which was probably the preferred location. It was a sunny day but temperatures never rose above 60.

Cory Hunsberger ’17 (Washington, Pennsylvania) earned valedictorian honors, while Brian Raiff ’17 (Galena, Ohio) is this year’s salutatorian. The Class of 2017 honored one faculty member — Dr. Kevin Pate, McCoy Professor of Chemistry, as he was presented the Outstanding Faculty Award.

Graduates were also provided a special opportunity to hear accomplished businessman and philanthropist Robert Dyson ’68 deliver the keynote address. He reminded the Class of 2017 how quickly you can go from a graduate to getting ready to celebrate your 50th anniversary of graduating.

“Follow your passion — make work not feel like work. If you are in a position for economic gain, but long-term you do not inherently like what you are doing, then it is not the right thing for you. Get out and do something else, life is too short,” Dyson said. “Do what you love and love what you do. In many surveys about satisfaction at work, ironically money was never rated as a long-term motivator.”

Westyn Bennington ’17 (Ashley, Ohio), Sydney Clottey ’17 (Manassas, Virginia), Emily Drabeck ’17 (Washington, Pennsylvania) and Courtney Wentz ’17 (Belpre, Ohio) presented the Senior Challenge Gift. With 18.2 percent participation, the senior class made a gift of $1,277.27 to The Marietta Fund.