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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Seniors graduating early celebrate commencement

Grinnell College celebrated its mid-year commencement in JRC 101 on Monday for 24 seniors graduating this semester.

President Raynard Kington, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Paula Smith and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Brigittine M. French spoke, congratulating the students for earning their degree from Grinnell. The 24 seniors graduate in the middle of the academic year for different reasons—some took a semester off, others came with credits and are graduating early.

“You are graduating right at a time when the College is facing a lot of uncertainties about whether it can afford to maintain its excellence in supporting its students at the incredibly generous level of recent times. So engagement, involvement, close connection of alumni of this school is really going to be making a difference in this coming period. So stay tuned, stay connected, and help future students have access to this incredible experience of Grinnell education,” Smith said.

Smith ended her speech by quoting the 19th century mission statement of Grinnell College.

“We hope all the best for you as we sent you off well-prepared and excited to encounter the different professions, and the honorable discharge of the duties of life,” she said.

Kington began by noting this is the first class of his presidency.

“Those of you whom we honor are the first graduates to leave under my presidency at Grinnell, and I’m fairly certain that none of you are leaving because of me, and I know that I came here because of all of you,” Kington said.

Kington told the students that he couldn’t name a single professor from his undergraduate experience, whereas many Grinnell alumni can give a list of faculty who had a tremendous influence on their intellectual and personal development.

“That says something about what this college stands for. As all of you go on to pursue your various career paths, I have every confidence that you will actually come to value your education here, even more with the passage of time and with the accumulation of experience.”

The 24 seniors, on the other hand, are ready to embrace the world outside Grinnell.

Reed Nightingale ’10.5, a mathematics and physics double major, plans to keep studying.

“This upcoming semester, I’m going to be in the University of Washington taking electrical engineering courses,” he said. “In the fall I hope to be enrolled in a graduate program of electrical engineering.”

Benjamin Main ’10.5, who majored in biochemistry, expressed some uncertainties in terms of future careers.

“Right after Grinnell, I’m looking for chemistry or medical-related jobs. And I’m also going to apply to both medical schools and graduate schools,” he said.

But Main plans to wait a year before continuing school.

“I would like to get some job experience first, hopefully a health care related job, which will help me with my application to medical school. Also, I’m applying to the ‘Teaching in Nanjing’ program and the JET program, which is in Japan, and I may be looking for other English teaching opportunities,” Main said. “It’s sort of one of last chances to be completely immersed into another culture before I set my career path.”

For first-year and second-year students, Nightingale provided some advice in terms of course choosing.

“Make sure that all of your semesters have two of the divisions’ courses,” he said. “I made a mistake of taking a semester of all science division, and it was a horrible choice. And I heard from my other senior friends of taking all humanities or all social science, those are equally painful.”

Joey Galina ’10.5 gave a similar suggestion.

“I think you are really lucky that in Grinnell you don’t have to take any courses [you do not like], but you should because it’s unique to Grinnell that you have so many good professors and so many different disciplines, and you should take advantage of that. It becomes less and less possible as you are getting older to study so broadly.”

At the end of the speech, President Kington expressed his expectations of the new graduates.

“What I’m really asking is that as you move through your life, you will be open to the full array of ways that you can help those students behind you. … We ask that you keep the school in your thoughts, and we will keep you in ours. And I wish you every success in your lives.”

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