Laughter was loud, smiles on faces beamed and nerves ran high as 390 graduates lined up for the 172nd Ohio Wesleyan University commencement Sunday in Delaware.
OWU President Rock Jones welcomed graduates, family and friends. “Today we celebrate all that you have accomplished and we look forward to all that is to come,” he said.
Gregory L. Moore, a graduate of the OWU class of 1976, gave the commencement address. As Jones introduced Moore, he called him one of the brightest stars in journalism.
Moore has had a long career in journalism. He recently resigned as the editor of the Denver Post after a 14-year run there, with four Pulitzer Prizes won.
Moore referred to getting to the point of graduating as “one heck of a dress rehearsal.”
“Tomorrow you will be playing for keeps,” he said.
“Starting tomorrow, mommy and daddy get a lot less credit and a lot less blame for what you do,” he said. “You’re responsible for what happens from now on. You are in charge of putting the finishing touches on yourself.”
Moore spoke of a saying — “It’s not how many times you fall down in life but whether you get up.”
“Perseverance is, of course, important,” he said.
However, “if you’re falling down a lot, then you’re having a hard time moving forward. It’s a question of balance. You’re going to hit walls, encounter obstacles and stumble. But the key is to stay on your feet and try not to go all the way down.”
“The journey ahead will be exciting but how you travel it will be as important as what you achieve,” he said. “The journey ahead is about continuous improvement. Reach high and have a great life.”
Jones said he saw great potential in the class of 2016 despite a world full of despair, hate and anguish.
“Today as I look out on this graduating class, I have great hope,” he said. “My optimism is rooted in you.”
“You have learned here it is better to understand than to fear,” Jones told the class. “It is better to build bridges of engagement than walls of isolation. It’s better to ask questions that lead to new truths than to assume you have all the answers. Here you have learned that humility is better then arrogance. Diversity has more beauty than uniformity, and respect for human dignity calls for our deepest commitments.”
Standing with her parents before lining up, graduate Danielle Birney talked about how she felt. “I’m a little nervous,” she said. Birney majored in biology and psychology. “I want to go to nursing school,” she said.
Devon Fisher majored in health and human kinetics. He likes OWU for reasons outside of his education. “The location is only 40 minutes from my house and Delaware just kind of reminds me of hometown fun in Ohio where you can go out and find fun things to do,” he said.
Sarah Cooper is moving onto graduate school to continue her education. “I want to work with kids with developmental disorders,” she said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.