I’ve had the fortune (or misfortune) of sitting through a good number of commencement ceremonies in my career; both as the recipient of a degree and as a member of the platform party and/or the marching/hooding faculty. Commencements at once serve as both the culmination of one’s academic course of study, while signaling the beginning of whatever’s next – be it a career, continuing education or none of the above (the possibilities really are endless).
I recall a mentor of mine – a former Dean of Students at Alfred University – being rather upset following commencement exercises at the end of my sophomore year of college. I asked why he was so down. He replied that graduation day always made him sad because it signaled the end of his time with so many bright and energetic college students.
Then, much like today, I didn’t exactly share his sentiment. In fact, in my view, commencement is the single greatest event on a college campus. We gather to celebrate our students’ achievements and send them off to begin the next chapter of their lives, whatever the titles and story lines of those chapters may be.
It is the academy’s responsibility to educate, to train and to prepare young minds to contribute positively to society. It is the graduate’s responsibility to make a difference in the lives of others, in their communities, in their own lives.
When we were initiated into ODK, we were each reminded:
“…that the Laurel Crowned Circle is not only a recognition of past loyalty to all good works, but that it must also be…a constant inspiration to unselfish service to the Society, [and] to [your college or university]…and a life-long reminder that if greatness is to be achieved, one must serve.”
Honor your alma mater by being a steward of its reputation; honor yourself by making a difference in the world; and always remember that you are forever a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.
Congratulations to our Society’s newest graduates. Go forth and “commence” whatever’s next (let us know what that adventure might be, ok?). Stay in touch. We’re proud of you!