Seated under a brilliantly sunny sky in Whittier College's Memorial Stadium, the nearly 450 members of the class of 2014 listened attentively as humanitarian Jesuit Priest Father Gregory J. Boyle entreated them to not only “promote” justice with their lives, but to “celebrate” it.
Boyle, who is best known for his work with Homeboy Industries – the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and reentry non-profit organization in the United States, shared stories with the graduates of his 30-plus year career working with former gang members in East Los Angeles. He described how men and women who had been former “enemies” worked side by side at Homeboy Industries.
“It shouldn’t surprise us that God’s own dream come true for us—that we be one—just happens to be our own deepest longing for ourselves; for it turns out—it is mutual.”
He went on to encourage the graduates to use what they have learned at Whittier College to help create a more just and compassionate world and to help “erase” the barriers that exist between different groups in society.
“Whittier College is not the place you come to, it is and always has been, the place you go from. And you go from this place to create a community of kinship such that God in fact may recognize it. So, you choose to dismantle the barriers that exclude. For the vision still has its time, and it presses onto fulfillment and it will not disappoint. And if it delays, wait for it.”
Before delivering his keynote address Boyle became an honorary Poet, as he was conferred with a doctorate of humane letters (L.H.D.) by President Sharon Herzberger. Also receiving honorary degrees during the Commencement ceremony were Dr. Maggie Koong, World President of OMEP (World Organization for Early Childhood Education) and Peter Verbiscar-Brown, the executive director of Global Partners for Development.
Environmental science major and political science minor Alyssa Fluss of Oceanside, CA, delivered the student address.
“We need to extend whatever we are most passionate about and pursue that," she said to her peers, encouraging them to live lives of action and achievement.
In her Charge to the Class of 2014, President Herzberger lauded the many accomplishments of the graduates sitting before her and challenged them to make the most of their Whittier education.
“You have completed an education that is unparalleled. You have earned your degree. You have learned much of consequence, broadened the way you think, and now you are prepared for a lifetime of seeking opportunity and grabbing it as it comes your way.”
View Commencement photo gallery.
View photo gallery of 2014 Baccalaureate Ceremony.
Read more in the Whittier Daily News.