Tag Archives: commencement

Memories of the Class of 2017


Dr. Ron Feldt, retiring professor of psychology. See you at Half Price Books, Ron.

Commencement weekend at Mount Mercy University has come and gone. The class of 2017 has graduated, even as I still struggle with a mountain of grading for the classes of ’18, ’19 and ’20.

At Commencement, it was a good year for the newspaper staff. The top two honors given at Commencement—the Mary Frances Warde and Mary Catherine McAuley Awards, given respectively to the top transfer student and the top student who started at MMU—both went to MMU “Times” staff members.

Capria Davis, photo editor of the “Times,” won the Warde prize for a whole host of activities, including helping to found the Black Student Union at MMU. Bianca Kesselring, who wrote an entertainment column for the “Times,” won the McAuley honor. She was active many things, including choir and student ambassadors.

The paper also saw the graduation of Anna Bohr, a key staff member. For the past two years, her title—web editor and then multimedia producer—implied work on the paper’s internet presence, which is accurate, but she was always an important and reliable staff member who made important contributions to the print newspaper. Capria was recognized as this year’s outstanding Communication Program student; Anna was the outstanding journalist of 2017.

capira and anna

Capria Davis, outstanding Communication graduate of 2017, and Anna Bohr, outstanding graduating student journalist, after Friday’s Honors Convocation.

Graduation this year had many highlights, but in particular two other items stand out to me.

On May 19, at the Honors Convocation, the President’s Award was given to Gabriel Acosta. The other two top student graduation honors are voted on by faculty and staff—but this award comes straight from MMU’s president. And Laurie Hamen got a bit choked up when she spoke of Gabby. His life journey put him squarely, if innocently, in one of the hot political debates of the day. As a young child, Gabby was brought, undocumented, from Mexico to Iowa by his undocumented immigrant parents.

And his family is being separated today by the stiffening of American immigration policy.


Gabriel Acosta, 2017 President’s Award winner.

Throughout it all, Gabby has been open and honest and willing to share his story to help others understand. Sadly, it’s not been enough to turn back the tide of nationalism that trumps any sense on immigration, but I can’t think of a more deserving graduate of MMU for the honor President Hamen bestowed.

Another poignant moment for me was seeing Professor Ron Feldt lead the procession of faculty at commencement today. He is now an emeritus professor, retiring from the full-time faculty this year.

Others also retired, and will also be missed, but Ron was special to me. He was part of my tenure review group. I valued his feedback. He and I have both served as chairs of the faculty, and I think there’s a bond between those of us who have tried to lead this group of independent souls we call a faculty.

More images from the weekend are in my galleries of the Honors Convocation, Commencement Mass and Commencement Ceremony. MMU’s news release about the event is here.

At graduation today, Bianca gave a good speech, Ron and two other retiring faculty members were applauded and many students walked the stage. Monday will be anticlimactic for me; it will be a day spent tying up thousands of loose ends so the spring semester and school year can officially be called “over.”

But it’s over now for the class of 2017. Good luck, and let us know what shenanigans you get in to.

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Reflections of 2011

G bell

Chapel lights reflected in a G bell. I play this G and an A in the MMU bell choir.

For no particular reason, I think mostly because I had the photos and needed an excuse to use them, I posted pictures of the bells I play in the Mount Mercy University bell choir on my bike blog.

We—the bell choir—rang at graduate student hooding Friday. Today was honors convocation, commencement Mass, graduation and picnic are tomorrow.

Well, the Friday ringing was OK. I got lost for a time in one song, but tried to at least look calm, and was “with it” for most of the concert—particularly the biggest challenge, the number we perform with the MMU choir.

I hope the ringing goes well—but it’s kind of nice that we’re playing at graduation. It means that the focus isn’t on us.

It’s on the people who have earned degrees. The young women and men starting their careers, the older people who’ve come back to the university for their BA or Master’s degrees, the adult evening learners working for a better job and to provide more for their families.

Graduation 2011 feels a little scary. Nobody knows where the economy is headed, and it’s a tough year to enter the labor force with a newly minted MMU degree.

Take heart, class of 2011. It’s not the best of times, but at least it’s also far from the worst of times. Getting the career kick started can take time. By earning your MMU sheepskin, you’ve positioned yourself to live a different kind of life, but that life doesn’t automatically open before you—you still have to push and think and watch for opportunity. Opportunity never knocks. It whispers.

In the Journalism class of 2011, one student is from Germany, one from California, one a local girl whose aspirations are taking her in a non-journalistic direction. I wish them all the best and wonder where the winds of fortune will take them.

One of the best students this year isn’t a member of the class of 2011—Cindy doesn’t graduate until December and will walk the stage with the class of 2012. She has already started working on her future—instead of finding a job, she’s creating one as the owner of her own news outlet.

Well, scary. But, well, cool.

The class of 2011 will do many things. Students earning degrees today will have to be ready to change course, change jobs, learn new skills and keep moving.

Good luck to you all. And for you, I ring my bells.


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