Under sunny skies on the College Mall, Elmhurst College awarded diplomas to 635 students on May 31 at the College’s 143rd Commencement.
Several speakers at the event counseled graduates to maintain strong ties to their alma mater. As Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray said in his remarks, the College can serve as “a resource for the future and a touchstone to the past.”
Echoing that theme, Sarah Kiefer Clarin ’04, president of the Elmhurst College Alumni Association, reminded the new graduates, “You are students for a short time—and alumni for a lifetime.”
Senior of the Year Marissa C. McLean ’14 quoted the late Maya Angelou, saying, “Be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” She also presented the College with the largest senior gift in its history—nearly $4,800 for scholarship support—and urged her fellow graduates to continue to give back to their alma mater.
Two honorary doctorates were awarded along with 540 bachelor’s degrees, 90 master’s degrees and five ELSA certificates. The Reverend Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity, and commencement speaker Richard L. Blomquist ’74 was awarded an honorary doctorate of law.
Blomquist, a medical economist and president of Blomquist Benefits, a health care consulting firm, is a longtime advocate for policies that promote quality, affordable health care. In his address, he stressed that today’s graduates have an advantage that his generation did not have: tech tools such as the Internet, smartphones and Google.
“You are better educated and equipped than any prior generation,” Blomquist said. “You control your future and your success.”
Blomquist told graduates that there are “three critical ways to get ahead … differentiate, be persistent and be creative.” Above all, he stressed the importance of perception. “Perception significantly impacts how successful you are,” Blomquist said.
“If a job is good enough to do,” Blomquist said, “it’s good enough to do right.”
Blomquist closed his address with two specific pieces of advice for the new graduates: to subscribe to Thoughtful Mind, a service that offers daily inspirational quotes, and to read National Geographic magazine, which places value on the positive in a world of overwhelmingly negative news.
President Ray closed the ceremony with a quote from the College’s sixth president, H. Richard Niebuhr: “The most urgent need of the present generation is light and warmth, the light of knowledge and the warmth of high idealism.” Also, President Ray added, the “torch of innovation”—because “knowledge is idealized through innovation.”