GREENVILLE, Pa.—About 2,000 friends and family of the graduates along with Thiel College faculty and staff attended the 144th Commencement Exercises where internationally-recognized expert in the Amish and Mennonite traditions Donald Kraybill, Ph.D., addressed graduates of the leading liberal arts college in northwest Pennsylvania in the William A. Passavant Center on Sunday, May 6.
“You can make a difference if you pursue reconciliation with a spirit of humility. You can make a difference if you embrace (people) with genuine respect and dignity,” Kraybill said. “I would like to commend to you the words of the ancient Jewish prophet Micah, words of advice that come rolling down through many centuries, ‘Do justice; love mercy; and walk humbly with your God.”
Kraybill also was awarded an honorary degree, as was Shirley Roels, Ph.D. Roels has directed the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education, a set of more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities supported by the Lily Foundation that together engage their institutions in the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation.
During the Exercises, former Thiel College Professor of English Mark DelMaramo, Ph.D., was granted faculty emeritus status. DelMaramo passed away in 2017 from cancer. He had taught at Thiel College for than 25 years.
Six students were awarded valedictorian status, one was awarded salutatorian status and 153 students from 10 states were conferred degrees. Seventy members of the Class of 2018 were awarded graduation or departmental honors during the ceremony.
“Socrates said ‘Wonder is the beginning of wisdom,’” said senior speaker Alison Schemrich ’18 said. “We must never let the trials of life strip away things that inspire us, encourage us, and keep us loving life. As actor Charlie Chaplin said, ‘You'll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.’ Let’s keep looking up and finding that rainbow.”
Kraybill is the Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. Internationally recognized for his work on the Amish and Mennonite traditions, Kraybill is the author of more than 18 books and dozens of peer-reviewed and popular articles. His books have been translated into six languages, and his research has been featured in magazines and newspapers across the country. In 2012, he served as senior consultant for the PBS show, “The American Experience: The Amish.”
Roels received her doctoral degree in higher education administration from Michigan State University. At Calvin College, she chaired the Department of Economics and Business, became an academic dean, and then directed the college’s comprehensive Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. Roels received a master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan. She received her bachelor’s degree from Calvin College in education, communications and social sciences. Roels has become an influential leader in higher education, supporting private colleges and universities to develop programs that engage students around themes of vocation and purposeful life work.
Prior to Commencement, a baccalaureate service was held at 10 a.m. in the David Johnson Memorial Chapel on campus. Roels gave words of wisdom in the service, and Thiel College Campus Pastor Rev. Jayne Thompson, Bishop of the ELCA Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod Rev. Dr. Ralph Jones H’05, and Bishop of the ELCA Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod Rev. Kurt Kusserow ’85 presided.
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