Anderson University graduates largest class in history

Sun, 2009-05-10 16:45 -- univcomm
May 10, 2009

Wearing the traditional black caps and gowns, the 2009 class of Anderson University graduates lined up on the school’s campus Saturday, eager to receive their diplomas, but somewhat anxious about their job prospects amid a shaky economy.

grad“I’m looking, but ...,” said 37-year-old Dawn Vetor, of Madison County, her voice trailing off. “I have some prospects, but nothing fluid.”

Angela Shelton, 30, Anderson, a former paraeducator at East Side Middle School, was a little more upbeat.

“I’m optimistic,” said Shelton, her silver braces shined as she flashed a bright grin. “I’m looking for a job.”

Both women, graduating with bachelor’s degrees in organizational leadership, were among the 700 students going through Anderson University’s 91st commencement.

Like Shelton, many graduates were hopeful of their future job prospects, despite not yet having offers.

“I’m trying to be optimistic,” said Jon Weber, 22, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s rough.”

Weber, who received a degree in marketing, said he’s had five interviews and applied at 15 to 20 companies. But he’s received no offers.

Emily Wasonga seemed nonplused at her job prospects. The 21-year-old native of Kenya earned degrees in international education and communications on Saturday. She said she had no concrete career plans, but emphasized the university’s aim of instilling a sense of Christian service in its students. She said she wants to work in a humanitarian field.

“If it’s a matter of making money,” Wasonga said, “there are a lot of ways to make money.”

Commencement speaker Carl H. Caldwell touched on the unsettling nature of the times.

caldwell3“To say you graduate in an uncertain time is an understatement,” he said. “If you’re not worried about this, I guarantee your parents are.”

But Caldwell said there’s a lack of certainty at all times — including when he graduated from Anderson University in 1966 during the Cold War.

“Every graduating class has had to face problems,” he said.

Caldwell, the school’s vice president of academic affairs, retired at the end of the school year. He had been with Anderson University since 1996. He earned his master’s degree in history from Ohio University and his doctorate in history from Indiana University.

Next year, Caldwell and his wife, Carolyn, an accounting professor at AU, will move to the Middle East, where they will teach at American University of Iraq in Sulaimani.

But Caldwell’s speech offered a reassuring tone.

“Seeing you before me, I feel very proud of our future,” he said.

For a full gallery of photos, visit The Herald Bulletin site.

—Shawn McGrath is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credits: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.