YELLOW SPRINGS, OH ― Antioch University Midwest conferred undergraduate and graduate degrees to 102 graduates at its commencement ceremony at Kuss Auditorium, Clark State Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon. (Meet the class of 2014)
University President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb welcomed the graduates and their families and stated that “Today, all eyes are upon our graduates. This is as it should be.”
Antioch University Midwest Board of Trustees Chair, Dan Young said, “There are a million reasons to choose Antioch University Midwest. I asked a student one day, ‘why Antioch?’ and she said, “This is for me. This is an education I can have my way.”
“Of course, Antioch University Midwest also chose you and that means you are becoming part of our DNA. You will remember your unique experience here. You have changed us with your enthusiasm and spirit. And we will remember you because you are a part of our DNA.”
Dr. Larry Stone, vice chair of the Antioch University Board of Governors, offered to the graduates, “Antioch students don’t come to our University to be transformed. Yet, many describe their experiences as transformative. We hear it again and again. As a cohort of students who have most likely formed lifelong bonds over the past several years, your journeys have included practical work that has demonstrated your commitment to being a change agent and to living the Antioch University mission.”
“You are particularly well-suited to be change agents—to be thoughtful, intentional, forward thinking and understanding of how your personal and professional leadership and engagement can transform individuals and society. I know you will do great things,” said Antioch University Chancellor Felice Nudelman. “You will remain active learners and seek out ways to give back to your communities and to your families, and hopefully, to Antioch University. ”
“I strongly believe in the power of higher education and you are evidence of that. Many of you came to Antioch because of our enduring culture of innovation and our academic community that is uniquely capable of bringing to life the brightest ideas and highest ambitions of you, our students. And I know you will carry forward, the desire to be bold and advance your lives and our society.”
Student Representatives shared their experiences and insights regarding their time at Antioch and how they expect it to affect them as they move forward.
Undergraduate Studies: Jennifer Vencill: “We are here today to acknowledge and celebrate our movement through life. Whether we have moved with steadfast purpose and insight toward our goal, or wandered here and there across the vast undulations of knowledge, picking a major, or two, we have opened ourselves to the purpose of our lives and gained the ability to understand our place in the world.
Individualized Masters of Arts: Ophelia Thomas: “As a creative writing student, prior to my enrolling into the Individualized Master of Arts program, I could not name a single, local, published writer with whom I could network—I wasn’t a part of a writing community. Now I have established and will continue to develop networking relationships with a substantial group of local and regional writers, publishers and editors. Today, Individualized Master of Arts graduates are urgently looking forward to the future because instead of asking what am I going to do next, they are asking which opportunity in my academic and professional career should I pursue first?”
Conflict Analysis and Engagement: Leanne Nurse: “I am a survivor of domestic violence, rape and homelessness. When I graduated from high school—and against my parents’ wishes—I wanted to go to college in New York, where I had a scholarship. Near the end of the first year at a local college, I dropped out. Forty-eight years later, I am standing here with you to celebrate this astonishing milestone. I am deeply grateful for the lessons I have learned with my Antioch University Midwest family. I pledge to take action, using these lessons each day, making my modest contributions to a better world for all.”
Educational Leadership: Myra Baker: “As a teacher, I’m conscious to prepare lessons that show my students how math and science are relevant to their lives. When I started at Antioch University Midwest, I wanted the same thing from my professors. From the first assignment to the last, Antioch met the challenge. Each assignment was tied either directly to our organizations or it was a roadmap to the organizations we wanted to see in the future. We tackled topics on ethics, finance, visionary leadership, law and more. By the time we handed in our final binder, we were equipped with enough resources designed by us to lead. Thank you Antioch University Midwest for being the change I wanted to see.”
Management and Leading Change: Shirletta Sales: “I believe we have accomplished that goal of true education! I also believe God has big plans for us; plans so big we might not know exactly how to accomplish those plans. Sometimes I fear that God’s plans for me might be so big that it scares me to even think about trying to fulfill such plans, but I try not to fear. I believe God will help me accomplish those plans if I’m willing to submit to his plans for my life.”
Teacher Education: Nathan Boles: “We put our hands to the plow and didn’t look back, we fought the good fight, and accomplished our goal by being here today, but our journey isn’t finished, but only beginning! We didn’t become educators, because we were already educators, but instead we became life changers. Each day that went by in our program we became more knowledgeable in our focused field of teaching, more fluent in our academic language, and more confident in our teaching ability. We have prepared, we have achieved, and now it is time to change lives for tomorrow!”
President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb gave the 2014 Commencement address.
“I want to talk today in terms of legacies and reflections for this graduation commencement in 2014. When I interviewed here I took a tour of the building and was introduced to a student in the hallway. She said, ‘This is a special place. And if you become president you must make sure you keep it a special place.’
“Your legacy is not what you leave behind, but what you do on a daily basis with every decision you make. You will have a voice and it’s a voice of empowerment that Antioch University Midwest has transformed within each of you. And you enrich us with the roots of your power and we will give you the wings to fly and be the change you want to see. “
“What does a transformative teaching and learning community produce? Listen to the legacy of our students. “
“One voice went to Washington D.C. with a group to lobby for measure to benefit the Federation for the Blind. “
“Another, as a result of her grant writing class, was able to complete a grant and procure funding for a completely renovated and much-needed cooler for the Springfield Soup Kitchen.”
“Did Ohio hear our voice when 100% of our graduates passed the state teacher and principal exam? Antioch University Midwest is the only school in the Miami Valley that can claim that distinction.”
“Each of you earned the wings to fly in the stratosphere that you could only imagine a few years ago. Now every path you take will be enriched by your presence and our Antiochian spirit. “
Mary Ann Short, Ph.D., Interim Chief Academic Officer, offered the University’s appreciation for the service of Dr. Richard Fairman, School of Education and Dr. Jon Saari, Individualized Masters of Arts program and Undergraduate Studies program as they are leaving Antioch University Midwest at the end of the year.
Antioch University Midwest: Antioch University Midwest is one of the five campuses of Antioch University, an institution proud of serving adult learners and their specific needs for twenty-five years. Antioch University is a not for profit 501c3 multi-campus university of more than 4,000 students who study at the Antioch Midwest campus in Yellow Springs, OH, and at campuses in Seattle, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Keene, New Hampshire, online and around the world!
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Christopher M. Williams