Student advocate Gwen Dungy calls graduates the “Unstoppable Generation”

Student advocate Dr. Gwendolyn Dungy spoke to 609 graduates May 22 at Gettysburg College's Commencement Exercises, encouraging them to use what they have learned at the College about service, responsibility and passion to "change the direction of the wind." Dungy is the executive director of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

"In my conversations with you, it was apparent that you have the vision and the tools to be the Unstoppable Generation. You have big hopes and even bigger dreams," said Dungy of the graduating class. "With confidence, you said that if something threatens to thwart your efforts, you will persist; if you're told you cannot do something, your first response is, ‘says who?'"

Dungy cited an article in The Economist, which called 2011 the year of "hope 2.0." In contrast to the article's assertion that America's politicians "‘lead' by sticking a finger in the wind to see which way it's blowing before deciding what to do," Dungy urged students to be agents of such positive change in their communities.

She said, "I believe that your Gettysburg education has prepared you to change the direction of the wind."

"You leave here with all you need to be powerful leaders, not in an abstract sense but natural leaders, living in a community, where leadership is everyone's job. Everyone is needed and knows when to lead and when to follow," said Dungy.

Full commencement coverage is available at www.gettysburg.edu/commencement.

Student speaker Noor Oweis '11 also encouraged her classmates to use what they have learned at Gettysburg to make a positive impact on their communities after leaving campus.

"Through the impeccable guidance and undeniable patience of our mentors here, we are destined for greatness. Because after all, over the last four years, what has been engrained in us more than to ‘do GREAT work,'" said Oweis.

Oweis continued, "Whatever comes next in your life, hold on to that Gettysburg spirit, to the values and ideals that made us great as Bullets and will make us great as adults. We could not be better prepared to face a world with countless possibilities for each of our assets. Take what you've been braced with and enter this next chapter of life with a nonjudgmental attitude and faith in yourself. Graced with a legacy of excellence, we are a force of optimistic, open-minded individuals. Make a commitment to yourself, a promise that you will continue with this tradition, create new ones and live to the standard of being a true Gettysburgian."

President Janet Morgan Riggs '77 offered her charge and parting words to the Class of 2011.

"I charge every one of you to build on your Gettysburg education in a way that will make a positive difference in the lives of others, whom you know well and whom you do not know well...Whatever you go on to do, I want you to remember that even in a world of technology, we are all people, and we must care for each other and for our communities and for the world in which we live. That is your charge."

Sunday's Commencement was the 176th at Gettysburg College, a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences.

In addition to Dungy receiving a Doctor of Science in Education, honorary degrees were presented to three individuals who are accomplished in their fields. The individuals and their degrees include: William T. Coleman, Jr., the nation's fourth Secretary of Transportation, Doctor of Public Service; Judith Berry Griffin, founder and president of Pathways to College, a non-profit educational organization with a two-fold mission: promoting college access for underserved high school students, and helping those students become partners in improving the overall performance of the schools they attend, Doctor of Science in Education; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist with research interests ranging from star formation to the structure of the Milky Way, Doctor of Science.

Robert M. Viti, professor and chair of the French department, received the Gettysburg College Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Sun, 22 May 2011

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