Vol. 19, No. 33

June 8, 2000

Commencement 2000

Graduates celebrate a long-awaited day

Gray skies and random raindrops did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 24,000 graduates, family and friends who gathered May 27 at Delaware Stadium for UD's 151st Commencement.

Commencement speaker Benjamin S. Carson, neurosurgeon and author, won a standing ovation from the graduates and the audience for his stirring remarks, depicting his personal journey from "dumbest kid in the class" in the fifth grade to one of the world's most talented surgeons.

"When I was in the fifth grade, I thought I was stupid, so I conducted myself like a stupid person and achieved like a stupid person," Carson said. "When Iwas in the seventh grade, I thought I was smart: I conducted myself like a smart person and achieved like a smart person. What does that say about expectations, and about human potential? This is what we must learn to develop."

Describing the 1997 operation in which he led a team of doctors who successfully separated a pair of Siamese twins, Carson said the real success of the 28-hour operation was the effect it had on the people in that region of South Africa, whose self-esteem had never been so high.

True success is "taking the talent that God has given you and using that to elevate other people," he said.

"As we go forth from this place, as proud graduates, please go forth with the knowledge that it's OK to live by godly principles of caring about your neighbor, of loving your fellow man, of developing your God-given talents to the utmost so that you become valuable to the people around you, of having values and principles and standing for something," Carson said.

"And, if you do that, I will guarantee you that we will indeed have 'one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," he said.

The complete text of Carson's speech is reprinted, with permission, in this supplement.

The ceremony opened with a procession of UD alumni from the classes of the 1930s through 1999, representing the more than 110,000 living alumni living in 76 countries throughout the world. Leading the alumni procession were Jillian Licata, Daniel Dries and Michael Pegues, members of the Class of 2000 and recipients of the Alumni Association's Warner and Taylor awards, recognizing the outstanding senior woman and men.

Graduating senior Andrea Hinchey, outgoing president of the Delaware Undergraduate Student Congress, welcomed her fellow classmates, family, friends, faculty and distinguished guests to the event. She told the members of the Class of 2000 to take chances and to challenge themselves every day.

"No matter which path you choose to take in life, look in awe as you travel it," Hinchey said.

President David P. Roselle recalled the beginnings of the Class of 2000. "The hope was when you entered the University that you would become a part of all that you would meet, and it is my continued hope that this has been the case for you during your experience at the University," Roselle said. "I hope that your experience here made you reach?reach for those things you did not think possible for yourselves."

Kris Schroeder, president of the Senior Class, presented Roselle with the class gift of more than $36,000. Every senior was contacted by a fellow classmate and asked for a pledge to the University, he said, and they were asked what they would like their donation to benefit.

Receiving special recognition at Commencement were two students — Hannah Rebecca Gurman of Nanuet, N.Y., and Erin Daniell Klene of Manchester, N.H. — for achieving the highest cumulative grade index in full-time study for a baccalaureate degree at UD.

Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper presented them with certificates.

Gurman, daughter of Gail and Benjamin Gurman, received her bachelor's degree with a double major in history and English. She also was recipient of the Alumni Undergraduate Award in History for academic excellence, was selected by her faculty as a Woman of Promise honoree and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the English honor society. She will work in Philadelphia for entrepreneur and public advocate Michael Karp.

Erin Daniell Klene, daughter of Roger and Eleta Klene, is an Honors graduate, receiving her degree with a double major in animal science and biology. A Science and Engineering Scholar, she recently won the Alpha Zeta Prize and was named to the Panel of Distinguished Seniors. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society and served on UD's Athletic Governing Board. In addition, she was the captain of the varsity soccer team and served as Mortar Board treasurer and as an Ag Ambassador. In the fall, she will pursue a degree in veterinary medicine at Cornell University.

— John Brennan