Congratulations, Graduates

Photo by Duane Zehr

By Matt Hawkins
December 20, 2014

More than 330 Bradley students celebrated commencement with family and friends December 20 in Renaissance Coliseum.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly ’77 and Lauren Watts, a sports communication major from Watseka, Illinois, shared Bradley memories and encouragement for the future as they addressed the Class of 2014.

Kelly, citing her journey from daycare worker during college to Capitol Hill, encouraged the graduates to engage their communities in public service and other venues.

“I’m asking you to write a new script with a new cast of characters who are driven by a duty to promote the common good and leave the world a better place than you found it,” she said. “I’m enlisting you in the fight for the future of the country. Even if your life doesn’t lead to politics, be involved. Get engaged in the ongoing debate about the direction of the country.”

Bradley President Joanne Glasser also urged students to make differences with their lives. Though not historical giants, she noted, Alexandra Scott, James Harrison and Justin Dart Jr. saved lives with acts of service and sacrifice — Scott with a lemonade stand for cancer research, Harrison with plasma donations to fight Rhesus disease and Dart with advocacy for disabled people.

“None of these individuals set out to change the world, but through unselfish gifts to society, they most certainly did,” Glasser said. “In turn, I ask each of you to be visionaries, be vital, be innovative, be Bradley bold to make a positive difference in the world.”

Watts reflected on Bradley’s tight-knit community similar in size to her hometown. Even though the Bradley community was a place where friends looked out for each other, she admonished classmates to pursue deeper relationships as they leave the Hilltop.

“We come from the most technological generation in history, yet we’re also the most disconnected generation in history,” Watts said. “We need to put down our phones, look at life, look people in the eye and experience life without distraction.”

The Class of 2014 enters an improving economy, with job prospects brighter than recent years. Students like Sarah Kantor, an elementary education graduate from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and Jonathan Boerger, a manufacturing engineering technology graduate from Decatur, Illinois, have jobs waiting after the holidays.

“It’s amazing to get a job and start right away,” said Kantor, who will start work in Peoria. “That’s a huge weight off my shoulders.”

Boerger will head to Minneapolis after graduation. Looking back on his Bradley experience, he appreciated the benefits of both the highs and lows of college life.

“I’ve enjoyed everything here, even the hard parts,” he said. “We’re here to enjoy life, and that made everything easier.”