Arcadia Graduates Urged to Follow Dreams, ‘Lean In,’ Adapt and Make a Difference

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 21, 2013

“When you want something badly enough, never take no for an answer,” stated honorary degree recipient Trudy Rubin at Arcadia University’s undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 17.

A picturesque spring day served as a backdrop as 475 students received baccalaureate degrees. The previous day, more than 700 master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded at the University’s graduate Commencement.

Global connectivity and a challenge to all graduates to apply the skills they’ve learned at Arcadia to their professional lives and to the common goods served as themes for both ceremonies. With Arcadia as a leader in study abroad and a pioneer in international education, the selection of Rubin, a foreign affairs columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, as undergraduate Commencement speaker was apt.

“The world has become more interconnected, and you are perfectly positioned to succeed in different professions abroad or in the United States because of your global opportunities at Arcadia,” said Rubin. “You must follow up on these global opportunities, whatever your profession, because this interconnectivity shapes the greater good of the world.”

Dr. Nicolette DeVille Christensen, presiding over her first Commencements as Chief Operating Officer, noted that while the world is constantly evolving and changing, Arcadia’s Class of 2013 is well equipped with the skills necessary to adapt and succeed. “You have learned and continue to learn, to be flexible, to adapt, to see many perspectives of the same issues, to innovate, to reflect and to respond,” Christensen said. “You have experienced the intellectual richness and the personal growth that only can come from an institution of learning that has of central importance an encouraging spirit of creativity in boldness. Carry within you the indomitable spirit of Arcadia University.”

Dr. Elaine Thompson, President and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health Systems in Lakeland, Fla., served as Commencement speaker at Thursday’s graduate ceremony. With a nod to Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Dr. Thompson urged graduates to “Lean in—give yourself 100 percent to the opportunities that may come before you. Create them; grab them; pursue them … work hard on them … realize and celebrate your talents, education and degrees—and use them! Make a different … get involved in your community. Help decide and transform local, regional and national policy and make where you live where you want to live.”

Speaking to a diverse group of students earning master’s and doctoral degrees, Christensen commended them for managing familial and career responsibilities with the rigorous academic demands of earning a graduate degree, and congratulated them for joining a distinctive group of individuals with post-baccalaureate degrees. “Weigh job satisfaction and fulfillment against all of the benefits of your particular profession,” Christensen said, “and find a work-life balance while you continue to look for ways to apply the close transfer of knowledge that this University has fomented to improve and impact the local and global communities you serve.”

Honorary Degree Recipients

The University awarded four honorary degrees during the Commencement ceremonies. At the graduate ceremony, Thompson—who also chairs the Development Committee in the Department of Physical Therapy at Arcadia University—received an honorary Doctor of Medical Science Degree, in part for “work[ing] tirelessly to improve patient care and treatment and in preparing students for an ethical career in health care.”

Also at the graduate ceremony, Dr. Teng Huang, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Xi’an International University in Shaanxi, China, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, in part for his dedication to “increasing exponentially the number of private higher education opportunities available to students in China.” Xi’an is the first Chinese private higher education university to introduce opportunities for internship and employment to students and graduates.

Honorary degrees awarded at the undergraduate ceremony were bestowed upon Rubin and Dr. Marcelline Krafchick, alumna and first Fulbright Scholar of Beaver College. Rubin received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, in part for “recording the truth in some of the most temperamental regions in the world … shed[ding] light on vulnerable populations, including women and children, whose voices often are muted … . One of the most impactful elements of your profession is how you take your talents as a writer and focus on injustices, incorporating your professional skills into the common good.”

One of the institution’s most storied graduates, Krafchick is Professor Emerita of English at California State University and an author of four books. Arcadia awarded her an honorary Doctor of Literature Degree in part for breaking barriers as the first woman instructor at Santa Clara University; for a teaching profession that spanned nearly 40 years; and for her commitment to civic engagement, evident in efforts re-socializing ex-felons through the Seventh Star Foundation, serving on a project to protect Kenya’s black rhinos, and in her “tremendous support of an orphanage of 42 children in Nepal.”

Special Award Recipients

Tanesha Waid received the Senior Golden Disc Award, presented annually by the Arcadia University Alumni Association to a student with the highest standards of leadership in activities that enhance the quality of student life and demonstrates a lasting commitment to the welfare of the University.

Kimberly Griffis received the Ira R. Kraybill Award for Full-Time Study for the highest academic achievement in at least three years of full-time study at Arcadia, while Steven Melnick received the Ira R. Kraybill Award for Part-Time Study.

Claire Eileen Wolfinger, president of the Class of 2013, presented the Class Gift of a touch-screen monitor for the Commons that will relate to campus programming.

Dr. Geoffrey Haywood, Associate Professor of History and International Studies, earned the Professor of the Year Award, presented in conjunction with the national Professors of the Year Program jointly sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.


Photo by Josh Blustein