College awards 216 degrees during commencement

College awards 216 degrees during commencement

Although the morning was a bit cooler than usual, the atmosphere was warm as LaGrange College honored 216 graduates during its 183rd commencement ceremonies Saturday.

President Dan McAlexander congratulated the graduates, commenting on their many achievements, in the classroom, on the playing field and in the community.

Janisse Ray
Janisse Ray

“There is one thing I am certain you have all learned, particularly at this place, something that will serve you best in the coming years,” he said. “Your lives will find their deepest meaning as you devote yourselves to serving others.”

Citing record participation by her classmates, senior Amanda Stukel, coordinator of this year’s Senior Challenge, presented a check for $3,223 to be used to support scholarships, undergraduate research costs and Jan Term study-away experiences.

Remarks also were made by senior Isaiah Whitfield of LaGrange, winner of the Waights G. Henry Jr. Leadership Award.

A 1970 graduate of the college, Peggy Cobb Schug of Charlotte, N.C., was the recipient  of the Distinguished Service Alumni Award. She encouraged the graduates to stay engaged with the college and to give back.

Honorary doctorates were given to longtime college supporters Charles W. Smith of LaGrange and William Hodges of Atlanta and commencement speaker Janisse Ray.

The award-winning author, naturalist and activist delivered the day’s featured address. She encouraged the graduates to not listen only to the advice of others, but to think for themselves.

“That is the purpose of a college education,” she said. “Listen to science, to common sense, to reason, your intuition, and especially, listen to your heart. College is only the beginning of learning, a lifelong occupation of joy.”

She urged her audience to always consider the world around them, to take care of the Earth.

“You have a task that is more monumental than any generation before you,” she said.  “You are faced with the mammoth task of not preventing climate change, but reversing it.”

But most of all, she encouraged her audience to do their best in everything.

Using the words of John Wesley, she said, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

“And may  the goodness of your hearts and your actions of hope, love and faith come back like flocks of songbirds to rest on your doors.”

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