Dear Bobcat Nation –
We have concluded another academic year with the 2012 Commencement Saturday. For me, this was my 13th Lees-McRae College Commencement, and they have each been very special. It is wonderful to see the looks in the graduates’ eyes, the pride in their parents’ smiles and tremendous sense of family that surrounds the Williams Physical Education Center on this day.
As I stood in the hallway, watching the graduates march through the throng of faculty and staff to start the event, I was reduced to chills and tears wondering what it must have felt like for those young people. It is and was a magical moment as the culmination of a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifices were soon to be rewarded with a certificate of degree stating they are college graduates.
I wondered as I sat through the ceremony, how many of these young people are first generation college graduates? Does graduate school await for some? What about the military? Will some join? How many have jobs already? Will some get a chance to catch their breath from the hustle of the past several years? What exactly will they do?
I thought of those who were on our cycling team and were participating in the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships in Ogden, Utah. What they were missing, but also what they were doing. Their last chance to put on a LMC kit and ride for their/our college!
In watching everyone walk across the stage and seeing their families stand up when they were announced, I marveled at just how many people we can fit into our gymnasium. It was filled to capacity, and then some.
And how many of them had been in the gym, either competing, practicing or cheering on their fellow classmates and friends. Of the 27 graduates of the Division of Business Administration, 20 of them were student-athletes. For the Division of Sport and Wellness Studies of the 21 graduates, only one was not a student-athlete.
So, in watching the families from Australia, the Netherlands, and England come to Banner Elk to watch their sons graduate, it left me with a sense of awe of the commitment made to support a college education. I watched a family from North Carolina bring at least 20 individuals to watch their daughter graduate, and the cheers from those who graduated from our off campus programs were sensational as they valued the opportunity for this moment.
The entire day was truly one many will remember as it signified a major accomplishment in so many people’s lives, and for this I am grateful to have been a small part of it.
Until next time,