First, we had some terrific speakers. Gwen Ifill was the main event. Her speech talked about caring about something and doing things that matter, and I think it would have resonated with our students who really have exemplified our Pro Humanitate motto. In addition to keeping her speech short and sweet (read it here), there were moments of levity, such as when she took a picture to tweet later, and also moments of great poignancy, when she talked about her mentor, Tim Russert of NBC’s Meet the Press fame. Tim had been a good friend of Wake Forest and had agreed to give the commencement speech before he passed away unexpectedly. That commencement is still tinged with pain for me, because I bet he would have given a magnificent speech.
Dr. Hatch also spoke to the graduates about grit – the ability to be scrappy and nimble and to work harder until you master your task. He cited some very interesting research about what made successful people successful, and grit has a lot to do with it. Read his full speech here.
For those who did not attend – or did, and want to remember every minute – there is terrific coverage on the Commencement News page. This has everything from speeches, programs, social media coverage and more. I commend it to you.
Finally, the weather. The University made the call to hold it outside on the Quad despite the chance of light rain in the early morning. It really did not do much more than drizzle a couple of times before the ceremony started. At the end, almost at the minute that the graduates entered the recessional, the skies opened and we got a pretty good rain.
Still, graduating on the Quad is a cherished tradition of students, and even though they got wet at the very end, I can promise you that from what I hear from past classes who had to graduate in the Joel because of rain, they feel cheated of one of their most anticipated moments. So while I am sorry for the rain at the end, I am glad that our students got to celebrate their Commencement in the way they’d been dreaming of since coming to campus.
Congratulations to the Class of 2013!