A perfectly sunny, mild morning greeted Mary Baldwin College’s 371 graduates and their families and friends May 18 for the 172nd Commencement. The college debuted a live stream of the ceremony, which included undergraduates in the Adult Degree Program and Residential College for Women and graduate students in the Master of Letters/Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Performance and Graduate Teacher Education programs.
Roanoke-based journalist and author Beth Macy inspired soon-to-be graduates with anecdotes and advice from her life and career that elicited laughter and nods.
“Remember the lilacs. That’s my way of telling you to spend your time doing what taps into the essence of you, whatever that essence may be,” Macy said.
“As much as you can, try not to focus too much on the money,” continued the the nationally published writer and Harvard Nieman Fellow. “As much as you can, spend your energy engaged in meaningful work that makes you happy and enriches your larger community — and the rewards will follow, eventually, I promise”
Internationally acclaimed artist Betty Gold was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, recognizing her notable body of creative work — including three abstract steel sculptures on the Mary Baldwin campus.
The picturesque hillside erupted with cheers and applause as graduates received degrees in master’s and bachelor’s programs. Near the middle of the line-up was Berra Kabarungi, a Rwanda native who earned her bachelor of social work after enrolling at MBC in 2011 as part of the college’s relationship with Women for Women International.
Two employees in the Mary Baldwin Adult Degree Program (ADP) earned their degrees alongside family members, making the moment particularly memorable. Teri Maerki, assistant advisor, grasped her master of education diploma and then proudly watched her daughter receive her BA, while ADP Director of Operations Debby Bibens walked just ahead of her husband, ADP graduate Gary Bibens.
Senior class president Holly Johnston and MBC Associate Dean of the College Lew Askegaard garnered Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards, the top honors presented at Commencement recognizing unselfish service, noble character, and spiritual qualities.
Commencement award winners:
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award: Holly Johnston
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Non-Student Award: Lew Askegaard, dean of institutional research, associate dean of the college, and registrar
Martha Stackhouse Grafton Award (highest GPA): Selma Elsarrag
Adult Degree Program Outstanding Student: Debby Bibens
MLitt/MFA Ariel Award for Outstanding Program Service and Leadership: Amy W. Grubbs
Graduate Teacher Education Outstanding Student: Victoria Cave
More information about the awards given at MBC’s Commencement.
Remarks by Commencement speaker Beth Macy, journalist and author based in Roanoke.
Profiles of several 2014 graduates are available on MBC News.