'Unabashed and Unrestrained Devotion'
by Richard Paige
May 15, 2016
The Commencement speakers, seniors Nathan Bode and Sam Vaught, implored classmates to bring passion and the varied approach that is the liberal arts to life’s challenges during Wabash College’s 178th ceremony Sunday.
One hundred ninety-five men received sheepskin diplomas from President Gregory D. Hess on a crisp, breezy, spring day on the College Mall. Bode and Vaught were the featured speakers per Wabash tradition on an afternoon that celebrated the collective accomplishments of this unique group of graduates.
Additionally, the College awarded honorary degrees to Thomas J. Broecker ’84, Emmy Award-winning costume designer, and Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R IN-5th) during the ceremony.
“Be assured, gentlemen, that your Wabash education has provided you with the simple gifts you need to find your way into your new tomorrows; to make good and to do good; to find meaning and purpose in life and to celebrate it,” said President Hess. “Not just to be men, but to be good men. We gave you the keen eye of a Wabash education so that you might see diverse points of view and to be challenged by them, augmenting your own point of view and leaving you changed.”
President Hess praised the graduates for making the institution stronger in their time at the College.
“We will remember your achievements. Because of you, Wabash is a better college than it was when you arrived here four years ago.”
Bode stressed the use of passion as the driving force to guide actions and inspire others.
“Approaching something with passion means an unabashed and unrestrained devotion, a passion that is unchecked by the norm, and often flies in the face of what is typical,” said Bode. “If you are around someone’s passion for long enough, it starts to rub off. It is almost impossible to be immune to this infectious process, and understanding how it works is an incredibly powerful tool. Bring that unrestrained, genuine passion to whatever it is that you find yourself doing next, and you will surpass those who doubt you, and inspire those by your side.”
Vaught infused the notion that the liberal arts are good for the soul – that allowing for points of view beyond our own biases – gives us the ability to create a better individual and collective worlds.
“So why, ultimately, the liberal arts? Why this place? It’s not about gaining specific skills, or even a certain brand of knowledge or list of texts,” Vaught said. “For me, it’s simple. In the face of a world that seems darker every day, in the face of this unknown century, what we’ve done here, what we will do, it gives me hope.”
Before ringing the bell Caleb Mills used to call the very first Wabash students to class, President Hess urged the 195 Wabash graduates to go forth with pride. “Leave this place with pride in your accomplishments and confidence that you will make a difference in this world.”
Bode concluded by asking his fellow graduates to use their good fortune to develop a notion for service to others. “We are lucky to be graduating today, but what we do from here depends entirely on whether or not we wish to be of use, or to squander our luck and opportunity for mediocrity. So as you walk under the Arch and prepare to take your talents off of this campus, I call on you, my Wabash brothers, to develop a passion for people, and for others. Be kind. Work hard, and play hard. You know what you’re doing, even if it doesn’t seem like it just yet.”
Earlier in the day, Father Vincent J. Druding ’99, Parochial Vicar at the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, NY, delivered an impassioned Baccalaureate sermon, “Whatever You Did for One of These Least Brothers of Mine, You Did for Me.”
“When we think of our greatest teachers and mentors, we see how with great patience and great cost to themselves, they have lowered themselves to relate to us and instruct us, precisely to serve us and raise us up, to help us reach our potential, the fullest flourishing of our human faculties,” said Druding. “As you go forward, you will achieve positions of leadership in society, and your vocations may put you in contact with the high and mighty, but I urge you: do not remain there. Do not get comfortable there. Your witness and example will influence others. Rather, if you wish to lead a full life and reach your potential: look, seek, and strive to find ways to lower yourself, on bended knee, to serve the poorest of the poor in your midst.”
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On Saturday, 24 students were inducted into the Wabash chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest honorary society, including seniors Derek Andre (Sullivan, IN), Matthew Binder (Hobart, IN), Patrick Bryant (Carmel, IN), Robert Dennis (Muncie, IN), Ethan Farmer (Bloomington, IN), Lester Gallivan (Hobart, IN), Abraham Hall (Bremen, IN), Kevin Kennedy (Dillsboro, IN), Inbum Lee (Dobong-Gu, Korea), Albert Li (West Lafayette, IN), Jiaxi Lu (Beijing, China), Charles Mavros (Lowell, IN), Dylan Miller (Milan, MI), Nicholas Minaudo (South Bend, IN), Kaleb Morris (Lafayette, IN), Scott Purucker (Indianapolis, IN), Benjamin Shank (Auburn, IN), Weijie Shi (Nanjiing China), Christopher Shrack (Indianapolis, IN), Paul Snyder (Hillsboro, OH), Christopher Stazinski, Valparaiso, IN), Samuel Vaught (Crawfordsville, IN), Alexander Waters (Troutdale, OR), and Korbin West (Spring Grove, IL). See photos from Saturday afternoons initiation here and here.