Allegheny College today honored 460 graduates and presented two distinguished leaders with honorary degrees at its Commencement ceremonies on the lawn outside of historic Bentley Hall.
Paula Kerger, president and chief executive officer of PBS, who was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the ceremony, delivered the commencement address in the College’s 202nd year.
Kerger urged graduates to trust their intuition. “Wherever your adventure takes you, I encourage you to find your inner voice – the one that whispers to you about what you were put on this earth to do. The voice that is innately and inherently yours, not an imitation of someone else. And once you find it, never let it go.
“During your time at Allegheny, you’ve proven that you’re smart and creative and resilient, and you’ve been given the tools needed to succeed in life and career. That brings me to my ‘ask:’ I ask that you use those tools not just for the advancement of your professional career, but also for the betterment of your community and your country,” said Kerger.
Kerger joined PBS in March 2006, and is the longest serving president and CEO in PBS history.
In addition to Kerger, an honorary doctorate of humane letters was conferred on Riverlife President and Chief Executive Officer Vivien Li. Riverlife is a nonprofit organization that works with developers, landowners and neighborhood groups to reclaim, restore and promote Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. Before joining Riverlife in 2015, Li served as executive director and then president of the Boston Harbor Association.
Antonio F. Dias, Allegheny Class of 1986 and secretary of the college’s board of trustees, welcomed the graduates and their families. Dias told graduates that besides hoping for a better world, they must fully embrace the challenges that lie ahead. “In addition to the obvious meaning of embrace – to clasp in one’s arms — it also means to accept or support or change willingly and enthusiastically. Both definitions require action and emotion. You cannot embrace without emotion. Embrace life. It is not enough to want the best out of life, you must be actively engaged in it. Embrace your dreams. No dream is too big. Embrace your friends and family,” said Dias, whose son Nicholas was among the graduates.
Saturday’s ceremony concluded with Allegheny President James H. Mullen Jr.’s charge to the graduates. He called on graduates to achieve at the highest level as professionals and as citizens, to employ the full measure of their promise and potential, to live lives of courage and conviction, to see and appreciate beauty even when others may not, to find joy and laughter in the challenge of their days and to never forget what it means to be a friend.
“I charge you to love this place that has been your home for the last four years,” said Mullen. “Help it as it sets the standard of excellence for liberal arts learning in America.
“Together as the Class of 2017 – as friends and colleagues, joined to generations past and future, move those tassels and proclaim to the world that you are today, tomorrow and always ‘Allegheny,’” Mullen said.