Meredith College held its 2017 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at 7 p.m. in Dorton Arena.
The ceremony was a celebration of the graduates’ many achievements. Speakers also highlighted the importance of those who provided invaluable support to the graduates, including family members, spouses, mentors, and friends.
The commencement address was given by Becky Jacobs, chief engagement officer at Simple Change Wellness.
Jacobs has spent almost two decades as an operations leader focused on building teams, driving process improvements, and delivering change management programs. Reflecting on her own professional and personal growth, she spoke about the importance of overcoming fears and offered practical ways to do so.
Noting that “some of the biggest barriers you will face are in your own head,” Jacobs told the graduates to seek out others who have faith in them.
“As you look around this room tonight, you are surrounded by people who believe in you, and will be there if you need them - but you have to ask.”
Jacobs also observed that it’s difficult to overcome fears if one is exhausted, and encouraged graduates to make their health a priority by getting enough sleep, eating to create energy rather than draining it, and making time to exercise. Other components of wellbeing include cultivating a positive outlook and nurturing one’s faith.
“You choose each day to make your personal wellbeing a priority. To live a life filled with faith. To surround yourself with people who will help you get back up when you fall. You are not defined by your fears, but by how you choose to face them”
As is customary, graduates were represented by two student speakers, one undergraduate and one graduate.
Christopher Doi spoke on behalf of the master’s candidates. Doi, who received his Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in elementary education in December of 2016, is currently a sixth grade English language arts teacher at Hawfields Middle School.
He spoke about the importance of professional mentors, noting that they often seem to say exactly what we need to hear at precisely the right time.
“Graduate students are often changing careers or at the very least changing responsibilities within their current profession,” said Doi. “As exciting as these new changes may be, there will be times of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s in these moments that I hope that you confide in a mentor.”
Katerina Pittman Ross, President of the Class of 2017, spoke on behalf of the undergraduate candidates. She recalled her own arrival on Meredith’s campus, describing the growth she and her classmates had experienced throughout their four years and the lasting connections they had made.
“From the wonderful faculty who have served as mentors, to the friends who stayed up late with us as we prepared for Cornhuskin’ and CSA Day presentations, it is no wonder saying goodbye is difficult.”
As the commencement ceremony drew to a close, the new graduates formed a circle, holding candles to symbolize the education they have received as a light each takes into the world. President Allen invited the audience to reflect on the critical role they played in supporting the graduates to reach this critical point in their lives.
“Your presence here tonight is a testimony to the support you have extended and the gratitude that our graduates feel for you.”
About the Graduates
Approximately 470 degrees were conferred during the ceremony. The College conferred Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Social Work degrees upon graduates of the undergraduate program, as well as master's degrees in business, education, and nutrition. These include degrees completed in August 2016, December 2016, and May 2017. Undergraduate programs at Meredith are for women only, while graduate programs are coeducational.
Success After Meredith
Meredith 2017 graduates have accepted positions with companies and organizations including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Credit Suisse, Urban Outfitters, MetLife, EcoLab, the EPA, Wake County Public Schools, the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital, and Cisco. Others will pursue graduate study at universities including Duke University, Chicago Theological Seminary, East Carolina University, Hartford Seminary, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Western Carolina University, Midwestern University, and Vanderbilt University.
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