Class of 2012 Commencement Celebrates Liberal Arts

Albion College Commencement

By Jake Weber; photos by John Perney and Jake Weber

Jordan Raiford, assisted by Samantha Salhaney, sounds the Senior Horn, announcing Senior Speaker Aaron Croad.Jordan Raiford, assisted by Samantha Salhaney, sounds the Senior Horn, announcing Senior Speaker Aaron Croad.

Rick Snyder received a Doctor of Humane Letters shortly before his Commencement address.Rick Snyder received a Doctor of Humane Letters shortly before his Commencement address.

Overcast skies held a perfect temperature for the large crowd gathered to celebrate Albion College's Class of 2012. Nearly 380 graduates assembled on the College Quadrangle for the ceremonies, with an address from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, parent of Jeff Snyder, '10.

In praising the Class, President Donna Randall noted their "amazing journeys" with service projects, class study and research done everywhere from downtown Albion to Cameroon, Suriname, Honduras and outer space (via telescope). "We're incredibly proud of you and all you've achieved," said Randall. "And we know that more impressive accomplishments are still to come." .

Senior speaker Aaron Croad recalled some of the resources students have for finding their future paths. . Croad said his own major in mathematics and economics was due to the influence of one professor. "I came to Albion intending to take only one math class, but Dr. [Darren] Mason's knowledge and passion engaged me in learning I'd never experienced before," Croad said, noting that many fellow classmates had similar experiences. "Albion College's instruction in liberal arts helped widen our perspectives. [The liberal arts curriculum] helped us see life's circumstances from different points of view and now we do this almost instinctively," Croad said. "In an increasingly globalized world, our ability to see things from different perspectives is a quality that sets us apart."

"I'm a little scared to bring up a test to a group of people just getting out of school," Snyder joked about his Commencement address. Nonetheless, Snyder suggested graduates ask themselves a series of questions to help evaluate their lives and direction. Snyder acknowledged that career happiness is important – but encouraged the graduates to remember life is more than work. Snyder asked the graduates to value family and social networks keep healthy life habits and prepare for their futures beyond their working lives. "I became better at work because I had a better perspective on life," Snyder said.

A business executive turned public servant, Snyder also underscored the importance of considering the needs of others. "As you live your life, do it with that 'relentless positive action,'" he said, echoing President Randall's words. "I've never seen a problem solved by blaming anyone … bring everyone together to find a solution and be relentless in applying that solution and taking on the next problem.

"This is a day you'll never forget, but when people ask me what was my special day, I say it's still to come," Snyder concluded. "So enjoy today [knowing that] when you're done celebrating …. You've got the skills and the experience to join the team and to reinvent the world and reinvent Michigan."

Biology department chair Dean McCurdy gave the final farewell, reminding the graduates that while they leave Albion, they won't leave the professors' affection. "You've become surrogate children to many of us, and we expect you to write, tweet us, friend us …. You will always be welcome here and always be needed.

"We've seen some difficult times in the past few years …. and in the days ahead you will sometimes doubt yourselves and have setbacks and frustrations," McCurdy said. "You have the skills to think through the challenges and face the uncertainty in the world and come through better for it. That is your liberal arts advantage."

Video: Go to YouTube or Vimeo for a montage of moments from the day.