Baccalaureate gives graduates time to reflect

April 25, 2023

By Ward Mullens

Graduation and commencement are times to celebrate the end of college and the start of a new chapter of life for students, but the Baccalaureate service is a time for reflection that can get overshadowed by the events of the “big day.”

“Baccalaureate provides a space for contemplation and to address the bittersweetness of the graduation,” said Laura Todd, assistant director for spiritual wellness for Albion College. “That is not to say that graduation is a sad thing, but there should be a place to sit with that moment and experience the complexity of it.”

The Albion College Baccalaureate service is from 10-11 a.m., Saturday, April 29 in Goodrich Chapel. It is non-denominational, multi-faith and open to all graduates and their guests. The guest speaker this year will be the Honorable Lisa Harris, ’89, Oakland County 6th Circuit Court Juvenile Court Referee Supervisor.

“I am deeply honored any time I have the opportunity to come back to Albion College,” said Harris. “The education and experiences I had there meant so much to me.”

Harris has been practicing law for 23 years and in her current position, she presides over child protection, delinquency and adoption matters while supervising seven other attorney referees and managing juvenile court administrative matters.

Prior to her current role, she served as an Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor and was in private practice. She began her career in dealership development with General Motors. She has also served as executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Albion and Albion Volunteer Center.

Harris graduated cum laude from Albion College in 1989 earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and management. While at Albion she participated in the Professional Management Program (Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management) and was president of the Black Student Alliance.

Harris earned her Juris Doctor in 2000 graduating magna cum laude from Michigan State University.

To be the speaker at Baccalaureate is even more special, Harris said, because when she graduated, there was not a ceremony that year.

“This is an opportunity to take part in something that I did not get to do when I graduated,” said Harris.

The theme of Harris’s remarks will be “Living in the moment,” Harris said. “Everyone is so excited about working toward this day that sometimes we just need to slow down and be in the moment.”

Seniors Anthony Neal Jr. and Samantha Dye, ’23, and sophomore Em Schiffer, ’25 will be the student speakers for Baccalaureate. Neal will give a meditation, while Dye and Schiffer will provide prayers for graduates. Music for the event will be provided by the Briton Singers and Euphonics.

“This is about understanding who you are and how you connect to other things and people,” Todd said. “Students are starting to think about those things more as they head off into the world. I hope they know that it is OK to have emotions and that they can take space to remember their time here and how they want to move forward.”