Whittier College Celebrates 107th Commencement Ceremony Under Sunny Skies

Friday, May 28, 2010

Whittier College celebrates 107th commencement

A sunny spring morning welcomed the class of 2010 to Whittier College's 107th Commencement exercises. The more than 360 graduates in attendance received words of wisdom and encouragement from commencement speaker and award-winning author Tim O'Brien.

The author, who previously graced the Whittier campus during the 2006 New Student Convocation, remarked on the graduates transformation over the course of four years.

"Just watching you now, what confidence you have gained. What different people you seem to me know than you seemed to be four years ago. It's as if I met high school students when I arrived and now I am saying goodbye to more than 300 adults."

O'Brien, an American novelist who has written about his experiences in the Vietnam War, challenged the graduates to use balance when making life decision and to avoid a too-definite view of the world.

"You will carry on your shoulders multiple heads," said O'Brien. "This can be a curse, it can lead to late night second guessing, endless speculation about what should have been and what could have been. Two heads can be a problem, but in the end those two heads, which will surely be gabbing at each other inside you in the years ahead, are also among the greatest of our human blessings. Two heads can be the sign of a person attuned to the world's pesky, irksome ambiguities and complexities and mysteries, and unknowns.

"To carry two heads through life, however burdensome, however dispiriting may help you avoid the soul killing, people killing mistakes of absolutism."

Before giving his speech, O'Brien received an honorary degree, a doctorate of humane letters (L.H.D.), from Whittier.

A member of the senior class, Amia Soto-Carrion, a political science major from the Bronx, NY delivered the student address in the form of a poem.

In the poem, that she began writing during her sophomore year, Soto-Carrion explores the multiple identities of she and her fellow graduates.

"We are poets.
Masters of disguise, traveler s of the world,
Protesters and pacifists, economists and linguists
Theorists and businessmen and women, lovers of literature and chemists,
We are poets
We are biologists and craftspeople, sociologists and historians,
Teachers and philosophers"

In her Charge to the Class of 2010, President Sharon Herzberger gave the graduating class a few last words of encouragement.

"You are entering the world of employment at a difficult time; your challenges will be daunting; we all know this. But we also know that you have all it takes to succeed.

So I charge you: fulfill your every dream, do not stop until you do so, and remember with gratitude this Poet campus that started you on your way."

Sports announcer Keith Jackson also received an honorary degree from the College. Jackson is well known for his 40-year long career with ABC Sports television, his coverage of college football that spanned more than five decades, as well as his deep voice and folksy, down-to-earth style commentary.

Jackson spoke at the President's Club Luncheon for scholar athletes. The luncheon is for student-athletes who've maintained a 3.5 or higher grade point average.

At the conclusion of the commencement ceremony Jackson led the graduates and those in attendance in a chorus of "Fear the Poets."