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Transylvania Awards Degrees to the Largest Class in its History

The largest class in Transylvania’s 229-year history graduated May 23, with 260 seniors receiving bachelor of arts degrees. President Charles L. Shearer conferred the diplomas on the steps of Old Morrison.

John CarrollJohn Carroll (left), former editor of the Los Angeles Times, the Lexington Herald-Leader, and the Baltimore Sun, delivered the commencement address. Reminding the graduates that commencement is, literally speaking, a beginning, he urged the class to remain intact. “Go your separate ways,” he said, “and may your paths converge again someday.”

Recounting the story of an embarrassing mistake from his days as a young reporter, he reminded the graduates that as they embark on their careers, they will make “big, mortifying mistakes,” and pointed out that this is a good thing.

“Years later,” he said, “I could say to myself: If there are 10,000 mistakes a journalist can make, I’ve already made 10,000 of them. Largely because of that painfully earned education, things went well.You will make mistakes, too. They will be bad for you in the short run, and discouraging, but good in the long run. Be resilient.”

He encouraged the graduates to choose their bosses carefully, not to settle for a one-dimensional job, to be candid, and to be lifelong learners.

“There are people who are fast starters and people who aren’t: hares and tortoises,” he said, explaining that hares quickly learn the tricks of the trade, but fade out early, while tortoises approach their work with humility.

“Learn something new every day,” Carroll said. “Be a tortoise.”

Marshall JollyGraduating senior Marshall Jolly (right), an American studies major from Paris, Ky., shed light on the University’s historical significance, citing a sermon given in 1819 by former Transylvania president Horace Holley in the presence of then-President James Monroe and future President General Andrew Jackson, who were visiting Lexington.

He quoted Holley as saying, “What shall we do, what shall we be, what principles, affections, habits, and motives shall we follow and cherish in order to enjoy our existence permanently?”

Answering that charge, Jolly urged his classmates to be uncomfortable with easy answers and half-truths, feel anger at injustice and oppression, have compassion for the suffering of others, and be “foolish” enough to believe they can make a difference in the world.

“Let us join with our brothers and sisters who share our human likeness so we may become not the mere memory of future generations, but instead, the hope for a better tomorrow,” Jolly said.

Conferring the degrees, Shearer wished the graduates well as they prepared to go their separate ways.

“Along the trail of life, may wisdom guide your spirit, serenity warm your soul, and hope rise forever in your heart,” Shearer said.

More on Commencement 2009:

Three Receive Honorary Degrees

2009 Graduates Head to Interesting and Prestigious Destinations

Looking to the Future

View commencement photos on Transy's Flickr account and photo gallery.

Jolly's commencement speech

Carroll's commencement speech

 

Produced by Office of Publications three times a year