Valparaiso University held their commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17th in their well known Athletic Recreation Center. Parents, families and friends filled the gymnasium to the brim. A live stream of the ceremony was available so that families from across the world could watch with pride as their student walked across the stage.
President of the Valparaiso University, Mark A. Heckler, Ph. D, welcomed parents and students after the first blessing from Rev. Charlene Rachuy Cox. “Today is indeed a joyous day. Those of you who graduate today as Valparaiso University’s class of 2014 are remarkable and accomplished group of scholars,” he said.
Heckler stated, “Today we will celebrate all that you have accomplished, all that you’ve become, and all that lies ahead of you and we applaud the timeless dedication that has been given to get you here today. We also celebrate the light that shines in you - a thoughtful, compassionate, and unlimited people of integrity that you have become.”
Heckler also highlighted the many students who have served in the military, students graduating cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude by asking them to stand up and face the audience. He also told two stories of outstanding students within the graduating class.
After Heckler took his seat, honorary degrees were presented to two worthy men this year - James S. Markiewicz and John C. Wustman. The presentation of the Lumen Christi Medal was presented to Mark R. Schwehn shortly after. Reverend John Nunes was inducted as well.
The address of the ceremony was provided by Mark Schwehn, Ph. D, retiring Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. Schwehn began his address by comparing the graduating class’ journey through college to The Karate Kid. He said the relationship between the characters Daniel and Mr. Miyagi were similar to the student’s relationship to their teachers, like hard work and seemingly unrelated challenges are learned to help the students become better people.
“On the days ahead you will discover, as the Karate Kid discovered, that many of those exercises that you all had questioned, and sometimes dreaded or even despised, have enabled you to do wonderful things. Those wonderful and important things will turn out to be the source of your success and happiness during the rest of your lives.”
Michael J. Van Beek, President of the Alumni Association, welcomed the graduates to the part of the ceremony they had been looking forward to for years - accepting their diploma. One by one each student came up on stage to receive their newly minted accomplishment.
Undergraduate students marveled at their diploma in their hands as they went back to their seats. Cheers, whistling, and in some instances jumping up and down, were seen in the stands. The students stood up once more before they were officially Valparaiso University graduates as one last loud and ferocious cheer erupted in the ARC.
Finally, within a sea of decorated caps, one defined the graduating class of 2014. “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment” it said, “until it becomes a memory.” Without a doubt Valparaiso University’s - now former - students will hold this day in their memory for the rest of their lives. It’s only forward for the many graduates, either onto their wanted profession, or continuing their schooling to get a masters degree or their Ph. D. But as President Heckler so aptly put it “And may God also be with you.”