In many ways, education is a gift given to students through the support and mentorship of their family, friends, and our dedicated faculty. For the 31 Gettysburg College graduates who were honored during the 2019 Midyear Recognition Ceremony, they’ve been bestowed a gift that will touch the lives of others as they continue pursuing their passions beyond Gettysburg.
In his first Recognition Ceremony as president, President Bob Iuliano spoke to graduates during his welcome remarks about the lasting value of the gift of education and the responsibility that comes with it.
“As you move forward, as leaders in your communities and in your professions, please remember that this education is not yours alone. It is a gift from others, so that you may give fully of yourself to others,” Iuliano said.
Further demonstrating the gratitude that exists in this gift for many students, Iuliano shared Anika Jensen’s ’18 Stole of Gratitude story. The Stoles of Gratitude tradition began at Gettysburg College in 2004. Graduating seniors are given stoles before Commencement that they may then give to someone who made a lasting impact on their College experience, whether it was a professor, mentor, or parent.
Jensen gave her Stole of Gratitude to History Prof. Ian Isherwood, who instilled within her confidence she never knew existed and was a foundational figure for her at Gettysburg—an experience to which many Gettysburgians can relate.
“As Gettysburg College graduates, your education is designed to empower you to think beyond yourself, to think beyond your impulses, and to question your underlying assumptions. It is designed to equip you with the skills and instincts to ask—and begin to answer—the hard questions that life presents. It is designed to ensure that—forged by all those who have believed in you—you may add your voice to a vibrant and diverse town square and be of service to the common good,” Iuliano said.
Spanish Prof. Verónica Calvillo spoke on behalf of faculty. Calvillo and her parents immigrated from Mexico to the United States when she was in the seventh grade; she was afraid, and she didn’t speak any English. Perseverant and determined, Calvillo shared that after two years she progressed out of ESL classes, and later went on to earn her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, something that her seventh-grade self would have likely thought impossible at the time.
Reflecting on her journey during her remarks and the mentors who got her through her moments of struggle, she offered five pieces of advice to the graduates: 1. Welcome fear into your life and let it motivate you, 2. Recognize that you can’t accomplish your goals without hard work, 3. Recognize that overcoming fear is finding emotional—and in most cases, financial—support, 4. Understand that mentors play a large role in overcoming fear, and 5. Pay it forward by being a mentor to someone else.
“I would like to leave you with one last homework assignment from Gettysburg College. I’d like to ask that you take a bit of time to reflect on the critical lessons you have learned beyond the classroom,” Calvillo said. “What did you learn from your mentors? What inspires you to persevere on your personal and professional journey? What do you fear the most as you embark on this new phase of your life?”
The annual Midyear Graduates Recognition Ceremony honors students who have completed degree requirements in August 2019 or are expected to complete their degrees in December 2019. All midyear graduates are invited to participate in May’s Commencement Weekend. Check the Commencement Weekend webpage for updates, including the announcement of the 2020 Commencement speaker.
Browse the photos from the Recognition Ceremony below or view them on Flickr.
By Molly Foster
Photos courtesy of Jason Minick