Message to grads: Do the right thing

Nearly 250 new graduates, armed with Heidelberg diplomas and a message to lead ethical, principled lives, are ready to take on the world following the university’s 157th commencement ceremony today.

Graduation Day began on a spiritual note with the annual baccalaureate service in Seiberling Gymnasium. The Rev. Shari K. Prestemon, executive director of the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss., delivered a moving message about building community and doing good work, and all the while, being true to oneself. (Read Rev. Prestemon's message)

Samantha R. Wairimu“Go out and wow the world with what you know. Astonish the world with your deeds of compassion and mercy,” Prestemon said. “The world needs your service, your open hearts, spirits and minds.”

“Go with God and know with the deepest confidence that where you go, God will go with you.”

Presiding over his first commencement as Heidelberg’s president, Rob Huntington began the commencement ceremony by having the graduates give a standing ovation to all of those who had supported then through their college journey. He also honored mothers, who will celebrate their special day on Sunday.

Samantha R. Wairimu from Nairobi, Kenya, represented her classmates as their speaker. She reflected on her childhood, growing up speaking Swahili in a country where young girls and women were often oppressed. A devoted mother, however, assured that she achieved her educational goal of college graduation, which included studying this semester at Oxford University in England.

“My experience at this university has been exactly what I needed,” said Wairimu, an Honors economics major who graduated with high honors. Her mother, she said, always told her to be bold and let herself dream.

Colorado businessman John A. Kelley Jr. delivered an impassioned commencement address, imploring the graduates to “do the right thing.” Using examples of executives who took errant paths that landed them in prison, he pleaded with the graduates to play it straight and be messengers for change. (Read John Kelley's message)

A small-town boy from a blue-collar town who was the first from his family to attend college, Kelley, who will join Heidelberg’s Board of Trustees in June, told the graduates to “do the little things right every day with fairness and empathy.”

“Make the right ethical and moral choices when temptation is greatest,” he said. “Be bold enough to show you will not compromise your beliefs. Turn away from unethical themes.”

After presenting honorary doctoral degrees to Prestemon and Kelley, President Huntington awarded diplomas to 44 graduate students in counseling, education and business administration. A total of 127 students received the bachelor of science degree, 73 received the bachelor of arts degree and four received the bachelor of music degree.

Eleven states and seven foreign countries were represented in the Class of 2010.

Posted on: 
May 8, 2010