SHIPPENSBURG, Pa.—Shippensburg University sent 1,095 newly minted college graduates out into the world at its undergraduate commencement Saturday before a packed crowd of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends at Seth Grove Stadium.
“I’m so proud of him,” Diane Hewitt of North Wales, Pa., said of her son, Alex Andrussier. “He’s worked so hard. He’s graduated magna cum laude. He has two majors, two minors. He’s a really good kid.”
“It means all the hard work is over for now,” said Hannah Valentich of College Park, Md. She earned a degree in communications journalism, but before the hard work of adult life begins, she’s heading to Europe for a month.
“After that, I have no idea,” Valentich said.
Nicholas Hall of Saltillo, Pa., in Huntingdon County, is leaving the university having majored in geography and history.
In the challenging economy of recent years, college graduates in many cases find themselves starting out in jobs that are more geared toward making a living than building a career, according to a study done by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. The study showed that about 40 percent of graduates were working in jobs that did not require a degree.
“I want to find a job, preferably teaching in my field,” Hall said. While pursuing that dream, however, he will be working in a distribution center for a major office supply company.
“Bills don’t wait,” Hall said.
“I have a passion for art, so my next move is trying to break into the art field,” said Molly Markee of Shippensburg. “I’ll probably move to (Washington) D.C. and see what happens.”
“It means excitement ... and there’s a new journey to come,” said John Hocker of Harrisburg, Pa., a math education major who plans to find a high school teaching position.
Graduations are typically times when speakers quote from great figures of history, philosophy and art, and Saturday was no exception.
University President William N. Ruud told the graduates to keep their beliefs positive because, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions.”
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Thomas G. Saylor quoted Alexander Hamilton about the importance of an engaged and informed citizenry to the health of a democracy in that “it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example ... whether societies of me are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice.”
Saylor also warned that democracies of the past have fallen, quoting Edward Gibbon on Athens:
“When the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.”