May 9, 2015 | By Jake Weber; photos by Dave Lawrence
"I have to say, we did it!," said senior speaker Bailey Judson, greeting the Class of 2015 on what turned out to be a beautiful Albion College Commencement after a showery start today on Albion College's Quadrangle.
The ceremony was actually the second for the Class of 2015; a mini Commencement was held the evening before, May 8, for the seven men’s lacrosse seniors who played in the NCAA Division III tournament in Delaware, Ohio.
In her remarks, Judson noted that her class experienced everything from a storm that closed campus to the polar vortex and three College presidents. Nonetheless, she reflected, "We helped start to rebuild a town, stretching the boundaries of the college to help it fade into part of the community, including the Collaboration Corner and the Bohm Theatre. We have traveled abroad to many countries and brought those experiences back to Albion. We have expanded the boundaries of our college experiences to reach so many places. We haven’t just made it through these four years at Albion, we have accomplished them."
Celebrating his first Albion Commencement, President Mauri Ditzler stated that one symbol of the revalued City/College relationship was the Trustees' decision to confer an honorary degree to civic leader Harry Bonner, director of youth programs in Albion for more than 40 years. "You're getting a diploma for the hard work you've done over the last four years," Ditzler told the graduates. "The honorary doctorates celebrate work that's been done over many years."
The College also awarded its highest honor, the Briton Medallion, to Albion residents Bud and Olivia Davis, who made the naming gift for the College's Davis Athletic Complex, scheduled to begin construction in spring 2016. The Davises, said Ditzler, have "given significant time and resources to the Albion community and Albion College, recognizing that neither reaches its full potential unless both are equally supported. They truly epitomize what we hope to achieve in our renewed College-community partnership."
Commencement speaker Faith Fowler, '81, reflected on the different college worlds she and the graduates know: "You have never searched a card catalogue, used an Encyclopedia Britannica, or retyped an entire page because your footnotes didn’t fit in the margins," she said, adding that the graduates have many good reasons not to listen to her now--from excitement about the day, to anticipation of new futures, to anxiety about the unknown.
"Now that we have determined that there are good reasons why no one is listening and no one will remember, I have a couple of things to say," said Fowler, who used her work with Cass Community Social Services to illustrate her points. Mentioning CCSS’s nearly 1 million meals served annually and the importance of not wasting food, "People have a shelf life, too," she said. "Resist the temptation to watch too many animals roller-skating on YouTube. Your time is limited."
Discussing the work CCSS does with people who are limited in numerous ways, "You have no idea what other folks are burdened with," Fowler said for her second point. "Work to make people feel welcome, valued, appreciated, listened to."
After talking about the importance of home, Fowler made her last point discussing CCSS's success in harvesting illegally dumped trash and other disposed materials in Detroit, using them to make mud mats, sandals and other salable products. "Perspective is everything. The world saw blight and trash. We saw jobs. The world saw disposable people. We saw adults with something to contribute," she explained.
"If four points are more than you can retain, remember the words of the great theologian, Mark Twain, who said, 'The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.'’”