171st Commencement Ceremony Held at Mount Union
May 13, 2017
ALLIANCE, Ohio – More than 487 graduate and undergraduate students participated in the University of Mount Union’s 171st Commencement Ceremony held Saturday, May 13 in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.
This year’s Commencement speaker Reverend Dr. Kenneth W. Chalker '72 currently serves as the senior pastor at University Circle United Methodist Church, is a graduate of Leadership Cleveland, a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Mount Union, and an active member of the Board of Trustees of University Circle Inc. Chalker is a graduate of Garrett-ETS at Northwestern University (D.Min.), Duke University Divinity School (M.Div.) and the University of Mount Union.
During his speech, titled “Avoid Stepping in It”, Chalker focused on the pursuit of passion and avoiding falling victim to the status quo. He presented these ideas through a metaphor of Canadian geese and the ways in which they interact with each other and their larger species.
“All across our country, there are millions of geese that are now called ‘resident geese,’” he explained. “They never learned the migration routes. While they can still fly, they don’t know where to go if they got up there.”
He went on to urge students to not just follow the leader like these geese so often do, but to focus on their passions and know that their families and communities are counting on them to be the ones that stand up and make a difference.
“I believe absolutely without any doubt or question that each of us in this room, and certainly you graduates today, have been blessed with unique gifts that inspire us to do great things, to stretch out our spiritual wings, and fly.”
He warned graduates that along with this innate drive to change things for the better, it is easy to be comfortable with the status quo—much like the resident geese—and to go through life without taking risks, moving outside of comfort zones, and pursuing passions.
“When we succumb to this power just to be content, to stay put rather than use the abilities we have been given, to aspire higher, the scenery never changes,” he said. “And we spend our time in those lines, with the same old prejudices. This is why it is so dynamically important what you graduates are doing today. You’ve got this amazing ability to make dynamic change, to be involved in things that change the scenery, and that is why it’s so important that you fly.”
Chalker concluded by urging graduates to spread their gifts across the country, to different communities and families, and to not become comfortable with ‘the way things are’. He pressed the idea that they are needed, that they are powerful, and that they have the tools to make great things happen.
“There will be light because of you in your communities, this country will be blessed, and it is a marvelous thing. You are so desperately needed. Congratulations to you all; take off!”
Following Chalker’s address, Dr. Patricia Draves, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the University, began the presentation of the candidates for degrees. After this, the Mount Union Concert Choir presented the anthem, In Meeting We Are Blessed by Troy Robertson. The ceremony concluded with a presentation by 2017 Class President Arthur J. Gioglio, the presentation of awards, the alma mater, and Benediction.