Go forth and be a force, Curry encourages graduates

On a gloriously sunny day, 405 students from the Class of 2010 completed their journey through Wheaton and headed out into the world, as family, friends and the college community wished them well.

Commencement 2010 capsNBC “Today” show anchor Ann Curry had plenty of words of encouragement to offer them during her Commencement address. She stressed that the tough economy is no reason to back away from dreams and that now is the time for graduates to realize their power as a force for good in the world.

“I know many of you are fearful about graduating in this very tough economy. You may be worrying about finding jobs in your chosen fields….You are here for a reason. Listen to your heart to find out what that reason is. And once you find it, stay true to it. We all know this economic downturn will end. The key is to be ready,” Curry said.

Despite mistakenly mentioning famous alumni from the other Wheaton College in Illinois at the start of her speech, Curry delivered a Commencement address that was witty as well as moving, as she reflected on some of the stories of those she has encountered over the years who have inspired her with their resilience in the face of adversity.

During the ceremony—a celebration of the 175th anniversary of the college—Curry was presented with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Honorary degrees also were presented to Diana Davis Spencer ’60, a longtime Wheaton trustee and now trustee emerita; and to prominent allergist Dr. Gillian Shepherd Mestre ’70.

More than 500 alumnae/i participated in Commencement/Reunion Weekend, arriving from 27 states and as far away as Sweden, the United Kingdom, Israel and Russia. Among them were six alumnae from the Class of 1940 (the oldest class represented), celebrating their 70th Reunion.

During the weekend, President Ronald A. Crutcher announced the naming of the new science center. John and Adrienne Bevis Mars ’58 have agreed to allow the college to name it in their honor. The Mars Center for Science and Technology will pay tribute to the central role that the two have played in making the facility a reality, Crutcher said.

In his remarks to the Class of 2010, the president stressed building of a different sort.

“It is what you will begin after today as you move on to the next phase of your life, building a career, creating new communities, caring for your families and pursuing your passion,” he said. “Through you and your efforts, this community, Wheaton College, continues to build, and I am sure that it will be better and bigger, and more wonderful than we can know today.”

This academic year Wheaton students have won numerous prestigious national scholarships and awards, including Fulbrights, a Watson Fellowship and a Marshall Scholarship, giving testimony to their leadership and intellectual abilities, Crutcher noted.

“Already, you are changing the world for the better through your energy, acumen and compassion.” Q