2017 Lincoln College Commencement bestows bachelor and associate degrees on Sesqui-centennial Graduating Class

Send a link to a friend  Share

[May 10, 2017]  LINCOLN - Lincoln College's 150th consecutive commencement, took place at the Lincoln Center on Saturday, May 5. Convening the Sesquicentennial Commencement Ceremony was Jan Bowers, M.S., Associate Professor of Mathematics. After congratulating the class of 2017 on this important milestone, President Dr. David Gerlach proceeded to introduce the speaker who would offer the student address, April L. Wilson.

Wilson is a single mom, Chicago native, and a 2008 graduate of Champaign Central High School. Wilson shared her story with her classmates. After putting her son to bed one night, Wilson realized, “(I) couldn’t give him knowledge and opportunities that I don’t have access to or the means to reach.”

Without a blueprint of how to reach her goals she walked into the admissions office at Lincoln College and the rest, as they say, is history.

Wilson is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society’s All American Team and the first in her family to graduate from college. To be a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society a student must, “demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society. She plans to attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to pursue a Master’s Degree in social work.

Wilson concluded her speech by saying to her fellow graduates, “Purpose is what makes your story unique. We now have the power to influence and inspire people that are a mirror reflection of ourselves.”

Following the theme of going above and beyond for society, three honorary degrees were bestowed upon distinguished guests, each conferring their own words of encouragement to the graduates: Zachary T. Fardon, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois received the honorary Doctor of Laws; Paul R. Tetreault, director of Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. received the Doctor of Fine Arts; and Dara Torres, a five-time Olympian and 12-time medalist in swimming received the Doctor of Humane Letters.

Go Out and Do Something

Tetreault was the first to share his story. In high school he was more concerned with what was going on in the theatre department than academics. He graduated from high school, but barely. His college career started with a degree in business because that is what he thought he was supposed to do, but he was not happy with that decision. He was encouraged to switch majors to theatre and he has not stopped acting, writing, and directing. Because of his success in college his attitude about education has changed and he challenged the graduates to “never stop learning,” telling them, “I try to learn something new every day.”

With 750,000 visitors to the Ford Theatre every year he tries to bring history and Abraham Lincoln to life for everyone who visits. Over half of the visitors are young people and “they are the future. That’s where there is hope.”

His encouragement to the students was this, “After today you will all go out and be teachers and mentors and inspire people. This is the beginning. Go out and do something. Do something that others said you couldn’t do. Do something for yourself. Do something that makes you proud. Do something that makes your family proud. Be brave, take risks, grab opportunities, and don’t forget to have fun.”

[to top of second column]

Find a Balance

Students heard from Dara Torres, “The great thing that college teaches you is how to find a balance between classes, your social life, and other things you have going on in your life.”

Torres story of balance, of course, was about swimming. She quit swimming three times in her career but came back each time because of her competitive spirit and the desire to be better than she was before.

While pregnant with her daughter she got in the pool for exercise, but was soon persuaded to train for another Olympics. She would be the oldest U.S. female swimmer and the only swimmer to compete in five Olympics. When she contacted her coach he told her, “Sure” (he would coach), and “Aren’t you too old to compete?” That was what she needed to light a fire under her. Dara now had to balance her marriage, a new baby, a swim schedule, and a dream to compete again.

She learned through this process, “You don’t become a great success by yourself. There are always people to help you and it’s important to be aware of that and never take them for granted.”

Dara competed in the 2008 Olympics bringing home more medals, missing the Gold Medal in the 50 meter freestyle by 1/100 of a second. She thought that would haunt her forever but as she reflects she realizes, “I won a silver medal in the Olympics.”

With that success made clear, she concluded with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of your dreams.”

See the article "Success in this life" for message delivered by keynote speaker Zachary T. Fardon, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Degrees conferred on this day included bachelor and associate degrees in the following areas of study:

  • Bachelor of Arts:
    Liberal Arts,
    Jazz Studies,
    and Theatre

  • Bachelor of Science:
    Criminal Justice Studies,
    Health Services Administration,
    and Sport Management

  • Bachelor of Business
    Administration: Business Management

  • Bachelor of General Studies

  • Bachelor of Applied Management

  • Bachelor of Applied Science: Organizational Leadership

  • Associate of Arts

  • Associate of Science

After “Lincoln College Alma Mater” sung by the Lincoln College Chorale. A benediction by Pastor Ron Otto sent the graduating class of Lincoln College 2017 on their way to begin another chapter of their story “with boldness, wisdom, and happiness; to walk into the future with courage and hope and love.”

For those who missed attending or want to relive the LC Commencement Ceremony it can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbK5v5ZYCJU.

[Lisa Ramlow]


Back to top