Lycoming College’s Class of 2019 crosses stage

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Andrew Dion is congratulated after receiving his diploma during commencement Saturday.

Thanks to blue skies and 70 degree temperatures, the Lycoming College class of 2019 was welcomed to the Fultz Quad on campus by family, friends, and faculty of the college.

Opened only once a year, John Peters, president of the graduating class, and his fellow student marshals kicked off the commencement with the ceremonial opening of the Oliver Sterling Metzler gates. The five soon-to-be alumni walked through a sea of onlookers crowding the graduation runway marked in the quad’s grass with white lines that would soon be welcoming the graduating class.

With all students, faculty, and attendees in place, Dr. Kent C. Trachte, president of the college, reflected with their students on their time at the college. While the outdoor ceremony was a moment of tradition, as opposed to the past two years, according to Trachte, the students in the class of 2019 were anything but traditional. Rather, Trachte highlighted all of the “firsts” this year’s class had accomplished in their time on and off campus. One being that the class labeled as the most diverse to arrive in the college’s history, amongst many other “firsts.”

“You have participated more in faculty-led travel courses than any previous graduating class,” said Trachte. “Having studied in 10 different countries; you have been to more places across the globe than any previous class.”

Trachte continued to praise the class for thinking deeply in their time as students, and in turn acting boldly in the college and in the community.

“Learning to think deeply has empowered you to act boldly. … Your willingness to act boldly has also been visible in athletics, volunteerism and enrichment of our campus,” said Trachte

During the ceremony, Charline Pulizzi, president of Labels by Pulizzi and Steven Johnson, president of UPMC Susquehanna, both received an honorary doctor of laws award for their generosity with the College and impact in the community.

Johnson went on to deliver this year’s commencement address. Forty-three years prior, Johnson walked through the Oliver Sterling Metzler Gates with shoulder-length hair and a $5 library missing book fee, which he calculated to now be close to $25. He returned this money to Ms. Beidler, head of library collections, and jumped into his address.

Centered around the idea that post-college is “tests first” with lessons to follow, Johnson gave the students three “test first” experiences he has encountered in life. Johnson also emphasized that the human knowledge is keeping pace at an extraordinary pace of change and that it is important to become an expert as “learning to learn.”

“Your job now is to believe in yourselves. To embrace fear and go all in, to strive to fail and discover amazing new opportunities, and to refuse to listen so you can do the impossible,” said Johnson. “And if you do, you will be the driving pace of worldwide change instead of being relegated to a life of trying to keep up.”

Olivia Heckroth, who graduated with a degree in creative writing and corporate communications, acted as the student speaker for the 2019 class. She centered her address to her fellow classmates around the old Lycoming slogan and returned to Reverend Beth Jones’ prior invocation. According to Jones, class of ’95, and Heckroth, the students of the senior class would be known for creating a unique story.

“We all know the Lycoming slogan, and odds are, we’ve filled in the blank with our own versions: I am tired. I am Lycoming. I am hungry. I am Lycoming. I’ve heard more variations than I can count, and while we all laugh about our own renditions of Lycoming’s most well-known slogan, I believe we overlook its true function.”

Heckroth dove into memories and opportunities the class has made at the college, and emphasized that each student should fill in the blanks of the college’s slogan, for it is a verb that Lycoming has given them to help them determine their own unique future. To remain curious, and never stop asking questions.

“Success is hidden in the questions, and even better questions. And in the verbs,” said Heckroth. “We are beginning. We are Lycoming.”

The commencement continued with the awarding of diplomas by Trachte and Dr. Susan M. Ross, associate provost for experiential learning. Students crossed the stage to accept their diplomas in either Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences.

With a multitude of students graduating with either Latin honors, departmental honors or as a scholar, the students crossed the stage to accept their diploma and the screams of families and friends filled the quad in celebration of this years Lycoming College class of 2019.

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